Sunday, 20 February 2011

No manjhe naahi

Time: 11:30 pm

I'm on my bike w/family. Cops doing their drunken-driving-check routine. I was clean, so didn't have much to worry about. One cop stops us, comes near. Of course he doesn't have the breathalyzer. Gets kissing distance to my face, and asks


My bravado of having nothing to fear turns to adventuresome. Mustering up all of the 3 and a half Kannada words I have learnt, I decide to give it a shot. And utter one of them.


Cop sniffs; grins a bit, shakes his head, and walks away.

I immediately realize what I just said. And ride away without telling the wife what (really) happened.


Kannada speaking readers have got it. For the rest, here's what it is.

In Hindi, the word for "No" and "Don't want" is effectively the same - "Nahi"
XYZ liya? Nahi.
XYZ chahiye? Nahi.

Same with Gujarati. "Na" does it both.

Kannada, however is more like Marathi
'No' is 'Illa' and 'Don't want' is 'Beda'
Just like 'Naahi' and 'Nako' in Marathi.

Now, when I (try to) speak a few words of Kannada, I always try to overlap what I know with a language I really know. The decrypting language I used to use was Hindi. Since that night, I changed it to Marathi.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Curse of ยต

I used to be a keen believer of the permanent age theory; having nicely settled into the late 20s for long. Turns out, it was a myth. Ceaseless erosion has caused the brain to lose a few wrinkles (only to reappear under the eyes). The attrition has had less to do with declining intelligence, rather lesser fuck-giving.

Gone are the days when I can incessantly argue on a point I rightly or wrongly believe in. The transition from ‘I believe, so should you’ to ‘I don’t give a damn’ happened pretty swift. The willingness and ability to continuously pursue a redundant objective has past its fountainhead, and is now on its weighty journey back down the parabola.

A few passions comatose’d on the way too. There was a time when I could rattle out band members, song names, the album from which the song was, its track number and what not. Today, ask me not a single song from any Top 100 charts.

Reading, exploring, the pleasure of learning something new – everything has given way to a meek surrender to the Maslow’s triangle. Instead of the Discovery Channels and NatGeos, I now gorge on dinner slouching on the couch and devouring Big Boss. Bring out the bloody pop corn.

It probably isn’t bad as it sounds. Maybe I’m mistaking focus for abrasion. But the deviancy was much more fun. Probably. Maybe regular updating of the blog isn’t as significant to life as buying diapers for the baby; or not as life-altering as forgetting to pay the power bill.

The thing with cerebral wear-and-tear is that I can't comprehend the difference, or even acknowledge its futility. Damn you friction.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A thorn by any other name would still be a prick.

If a junior copywriter had come to me, wet ears and all, with that name for a new social media website, i would have thrown the book on his face. Fortunately, that didn't happen with the branding copyguy IRL, and thence we have facebook.

Branding, or more specifically, naming of the brand is probably the most overrated, and subsequently the hardest aspect of all things advertising.

Clients come with products/services unworthy of the ppt files they have been conceived on. And then shoot point blank bullet points that are supposed to be attitributes of the brand. "It should sound innovative, trustworthy, unique." And of course, the ubiqitous "should evoke an emotional" crap.

Well, I've got two unbranded words for them. Shove it. First up, make a product that deserves these attributes, and it will sell itself. The function of advertising was never to make a substandard product successful.

But no. They will reiterate their stupidity with a million iterations. Do research. Dip stick. When what they should really be doing is stuff all the bullet points up a rectal abyss.

Facebook? Really? It sold on what it did, not what it was called. Twitter? Doesn't even sound attributical. More like an irritating chirp. But what it brought to the world was good enough for it to become the brand it is today. Blogger. Wordpress. Firefox. The online world is replete with dumbed down or downright absurd brand names. And all doing pretty well for themselves.

Take the most recognised names in real world. Coca Cola and Pepsi derive theirs from their ingredients (shitty ones at that). IBM is International Business Machines. GE is General Electric. Go figure how many ppt slides went into coming up with those ones. Microsoft has spewed dick jokes for decades now. MacDonalds, Ford are pronouns - names of their individual founders. KFC, Nokia get their names from the places they come from.

With the exception of Apple and Nike, none of the world's top brands seem to be over-thought exercises. And these two are successful today, again, because of what they have done with their products, not because some agency bestowed its brilliance on them. If Jobs had called the iPod the All White Music Player, it would still have been the phenomenon it proved to be.

Just name the goddamn thing something that isn't a cuss word or a slang for genital parts, and get on with it.

And don't even get me started on baselines. It's time clients get this straight. Baselines are pretentious, obnoxious word-strings created only to cater to their own pompous egos. 'Make.believe' is stupid. 'Yours is here' is I don't even begin to fathom what. 'Impossible is nothing' is Yoda-speak. But then, I won't think twice before buying a Sony television. Or a Dell Laptop. Or Adidas shoes - if only to kick some brand manager in his valued propositions.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A walk-on part in a cage.

Years ago, you made a choice. Against the current; against the grain; staring right into the sun. Putting on your rebel shades. Flaunting your mutinous tattoo. Walking straight down the Floydian path.

Long down the untrodden road, at a point of no return, the fallacy dawned. Turns out, what you thought was your world was but a Truman show. A cage controlled by puppet masters with no strings attached. There was never a lead role. There was never a war.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Got any talent? No? Then STFU.

It’s become fashionable to deride reality shows. And, going by what little I see of them on screen, I’d say mostly deservingly so. Until, amidst the entire melee, I chance upon the actual performances.

Seriously. Take out the obnoxious judges, the scripted fights, the melodramatic tears, and the annoying hosts – and you’ll get to see the kind of singers or dancers that could give most of the big players a run. Mostly coming from small towns, these participants are just relishing their proverbial 15 days of fame. Let them. They are making a fair bunch of bucks along the way too, I would guess. I have seen kids old enough for diapers, reaching pitches you could only dream of in your scorpion-infested dreams.

These are folks who can catch a quarter note on the synth, or do a backflip wearing an outrageous costume. And on stage, too. Any of us, who are neither talented to reach the scales, or know anything about music/art to be even armchair critics, should really be stuffing our mouths shut, ideally with feet.

All talent we managed to get was to write codes, or copy, or legal letters or whatever. Some of us can even roll our tongues sideways. Really? Here’s your trophy.

Even the non-talent based shows have participants who, I am again guessing, are earning more than what most of us get in the year. Getting that much to play dumb in front of the nation? Not a bad deal of a job. Let’s face it, it’s what we all do for a living. Just not on air, and for much less money.

So the next time you are sneering at that ugly Swayamwar contestant, or that sobbing Idol contest, take this into account. They have relevant/non-relevant talent. They are being paid big. And they are on television. While all you/your family is doing is feeding the channel’s TRP. It’s a win-win situation for all. EXCEPT YOU.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Tiger, mate.

1411 is an odd number. In a hypothetically ideal event of a 50-50 gender proportion, some of the either male or female tigers will have to be...non-monogamous.

But I guess fidelity is the least of their problems. The real one lies in them being not 'gamos' at all. Now, I'm not an expert on this topic, but I have read/heard somewhere that these cats are difficult to breed. I am assuming this translates into them being not very bunny-like in their libido. Otherwise, imagine, tigers breeding like fish, or pigs (if you want a mammary example). But no. They seem to be the silent loner types who would walk into a single's bar and walk out alone after a few Tigers.

On a serious note, I'd be obviously expected to say that we, as humankind, should stop poaching. Of course. We have been saying this for decades now. Isn't helping much. So an out-of-the-box idea for the tigers would be to start hitting the sack with their own kinds and spawn till the dawn breaks.

That ad tells us to 'speak up' and 'blog' about tigers. I am assuming a lot of you are already spreading stripey messages to the human species. So I thought mine should be directed towards panthera tigris. Fuck much dudes, or you're gonna follow the dinos to fossiland.

Speaking of extinction, I think evolution (or God, if you're that kind) botched up big time. I mean look at the animals that have gone. Starting from cool pterodactyls to awesome saber tooths to mammoths. These were all such kick ass beings. EPIC. Imagine having these around today. But no, they didn't survive evolution. And guess who did? Mosquitoes and pigs and earthworms. That's who. Couldn't it just have been the other way round? I mean, the whole population of the world is killing mosquitoes and flies by the trillions everyday. But I don't see a "Just 5455 mosquitoes left" campaign anywhere. Heck, evolution/God even chose cockroaches to be nuclear-attack-immune. Yeah right. Like they will single-handedly rebuild the earth after an apocalyptic event.

Coming back to tigers, the layman in me often asks - how difficult it would be to artificially inseminate a tigress? I mean, we have put robots on red planets. And Attenborough (Speilberg) almost brought back dinos from...guess who... mosquito fossils. So why don't a bunch of Nobel winning biologists do something about getting two tigers together. Make one of them watch porn, and get his stuff in a test tube? Too much sci-fi? I don't think so.

Yes of course. Bottom line still remains that we need to hold back our spears. Especially when it comes to awesome cats such as these. I mean, look at them. Try getting that badass attitude from a pig. No, we really can't afford to lose these kinds. I am sure you can get aphrodisiacs from, say a donkey's penis, or medicinal value out of rat bones. Leech pelts will look good on ramps too. Just leave the goddamn Tiger alone. For a while at least; till they get back to being like their golfing namesake.

Image source:

Monday, 15 February 2010

Reality v/s Realism. Or why the Oscars are going to disappoint.

This post is about movies; fairly recent ones. Spoilers will be thrown around. All of the four and half people who read my blog are hence forewarned.

If a pre-historic John Wayne had a one-night-stand with B-movie’d Steven Seagal, you’d get one of the hottest contenders at this year’s Academy. Yeah, that’s right. Jeremy Renner, he of cigarette chewing bravado and cowboy swagger. You have been hailed as one of the performances of the year in The Hurt Locker. And I have an issue with the movie, not so much about the lead actor.

It’s a good-ish movie, yes. The first Iraq war movie of any substance. Seemingly realistic. Well shot. A couple of cool blasts. But that’s about it. There’s no character arc, no one you care for. I don’t want Transformers-like explosions or cleavages every nano second, no. But Locker becomes pretentious after a point. Renner’s James just walks into a bomb disposal scene, takes off his bomb suit, lits a cigarette and wades his way through wires to finally figure out the stereotypical blue v/s red one. You almost expect the brown onlookers to clap. He does this about half a dozen times in the movie. Along the way also helping a bunch of British mercenaries kill the bad guys with long-range rifles. (That’s another ridiculous set piece – who would stay in the same position in a gun fight where a minute earlier, someone has been killed by enemy bullets).

If this was just an under-hyped war movie with a decent one look, I’d be okay watching it. But the buzz it’s getting is far too much. It’s just not that great a movie. And please, don’t even get started about how it’s a woman director (that too Cameron’s ex wife) who has redefined feminism in camouflage. That is incidental. And also, don’t get started about the whole “so realistic” thing. There have been far better realistic war movies that don’t have cowboy heroes. And have much better stories to tell. And are more effective. Saving Private Ryan obviously comes to mind. Black Hawk Down too. No heroes.

Making a whole movie to justify your opening quote about war being addictive is a bit of an overkill Ms. Bigelow/Boal. It defeats me why this movie has so unanimously scored with critics everywhere.

My favourite realistic movie this year is about aliens. (I was dying to put “realistic” and “aliens” in the same sentence.) Ladies and gentlemen, I give you District 9. Or how Neil Blomkamp has blown brains with his debut feature. It’s more realistic than Locker. More effectively allegorical than Avatar. And has the coolest special effects; shot in documentary style. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie. That’s how sci-fi movies should be made. It has a story and a character you warm up to. No, really, no spoilers here. Just watch this gem from South Africa. Sharlto Copley is the most unlikeliest of heroes. And he’s not even a proper actor.

I also have a grouse with Up. It is a heartwarming story, obviously beautifully animated and rendered. But the story takes an unnecessary turn in the third act. And it's all stupid from there on. Talking dogs, a hero turned villain for no apparent reason, and a tree-hugging message. Wall-E without any dialogue, had more heart. Too bad none of the other contenders come even close to Up in the best animation category. (Though I'll be rooting for the fantastic Fantastic Mr. Fox).

Having vented out enough, here’s my predictive list of who should and who will win this year at Oscars.

The only “no-contests” this time are Cristoph Waltz ("Bingo") for best Supporting Actor and UP for best animated movie.

Should: District 9 (Very wishful thinking. We all know who'll win this)
Will: Avatar (Populist, yes, but Cameron has made a game-changer, for sure. So this is deserving)

Should: Quentin Tarantino (Oh, yes)
Will: Katherine Bigelow (shudder)

Original Screenplay
Should: QT (Who else loved Landa's rat analogy?)
Will: QT

Adapted Screenplay
Should: Jason Reitman (listen to the baggage speech)
Will: Jason Reitman

Actor Male
Should: George Clooney (Even though he "almost" plays himself again, but this time it works)
Will: Jeff Bridges (sentimental favourite. This year's Rourkee)

Actor Female
Only watched Streep in Julie & Julia, and she rocked in that one.

Visual Effects
Do they even need nominations for this one. Just Fedex it to Cameron's office.

Original Score
Should: Sherlock Holmes
Will: Up