Friday, December 20, 2013

Dhoom 3: an out n out Aamir fare

Dhoom 3: an out n out Aamir fare

Wasn't it expected to be that way only? Even the lone Aamir basher staying in his mansion somewhere near the CCD outlet on the Band Stand (in Bandra) wouldn't put his money on the 'others' in this latest episode of the immensely 'milkable' Yashraj franchise. When the master perfectionist of the industry is in his full form (when was he last not in any way in your memory?) you just do not care about what role is being essayed by whom. They simply get redundant in the overall scheme of things and even their limited on-screen presence becomes annoying. That's not very surprising when these 'others' indeed are the clueless summer interns who get to break into some specialized course on management (or board) seats and every time they end up turning themselves into "poker faced" bummers who just got lucky in a "lottery of sperms". But when the attention span of the audience doesn't spare even the nation's (arguably the prettiest) heartthrob a thought the responsibility (of delivering) gets all the more manifold on the diminutive frame of the erstwhile (and original) chocolate hero. How does he more than make up for all the mediocrity around? Simply, by doubling the booster dose! And boy-o-boy! Oh boy! Does he make you go ga-ga with both of his avatars? He stands up (nothing unusual here) and delivers a knock out punch.

Quite matter-of-factly, Dhoom 3 is just Aamir and all of him in his full glory. Rest all is just noise. Noise of the thundering engines of those BMW superbikes which turn themselves into ichchadhaari boats and what not merely on the push of a button. Noise of the rest of the ensemble cast which is desperately (and quite uselessly) trying to prove worth of the numbers written on its paycheck in a screenplay which finds itself numbed with an utter lack of a storyline.

You won't be blamed for mistaking D3's action director to be its 'director' as two third of the 173 minute running time is picturized on the Chicago streets at a pulsating pace. Credit goes to the cinematographer for doing a good job here in what could very easily have been a monotonous repetetion of the same high voltage chase affairs. One sixth of the movie's length is spent on the delectable song & dance sequences which doesn't thankfully interrupt flow of the desi Fast n furious.

As for the performances, lesser said the better about the genetically precocious Uday Chopra but by playing second fiddle to a strong mainstream hero Abhishek Bachchan is digging up his career's grave with each such sub-par portrayals. If Kat keeps playing such dumb bimbo type roles very soon age is not going to be on her right side as other fresher faces wouldn't have to burn any midnight oil in their bid to latch on to such low hanging apples.

Aamir keeps surprising us with each of his screen adaptations but honestly even as a die hard fan of him I am a tad disappointed as to why did he agree to lend his credence to this otherwise tasteless dish! I am sure with the ensuing Christmas break this also would cross 300 Cr mark in this calendar year itself but knowing him as a 'thoughtful' exhibitioner I am sure he won't rate this one as his most proud selection.

Just for one of my true favourite's absolutely unadulterated performance D3 gets a seven on REndex. I know it's (favourably) biased but then life hasn't been so very impartial with yours truly.

(C) Rits Original

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The God with a Red Dot

The God with a Red Dot

I must admit that my humble inputs on this work were expected few weeks back but even as I finished reading it the moment I laid my hands on it (and did it again twice later) I was confounded with my own thoughts only. Who am I to have the temerity of throwing a laser beam on to the full noon Sun? Do I possess in my armour the scant sensitivity to be audacious in acting a ‘reviewer’ for the work of who I so indisputably regard as my ‘idol’, both in my personal life as well as in pursuing my own literary ambitions (it’s another matter that I still get more drubbing for ostensibly being ‘verbose’ than I have been able to attract genuine followers)? All of these self doubts forced me away from sharing what I have realized I do better than I do anything else, penning a critique! So, here you go. If you find me being less than adequate while endeavouring to do justice to your sensitivity it’s me only to be blamed for my mediocrity.

Who is Akki? Is he your neighbourhood Joshua? Or is he your best pal Kapil? He, in fact is all of them and more essentially, he is YOU! Am I right or am I right (This one got lifted by someone before I could file a patent on it)?

When you read through this fabulous short tale (I must confess that I wouldn’t have minded if it didn’t get over so soon, so prematurely, leaving me high and dry) so aptly titled “The God with a Red Dot” you effortlessly visualize few subtle and more not so subtle hues of your own adolescent years as you identify each character (so thoughtfully weaved in the plot) that the moment you come across the very first mention of the temple priest you don’t blink an eyelid before the image of your own, not so pious Pujari ji (popular Hindi reference for the priest) disturbs your tranquillity. Wow!

I have had the benefit of knowing this true gentleman for close to two decades now and it would be an absolute understatement if I were to say that the author is trying his level best (and beyond) to put his own emotions for his most respected and beloved mother on paper through the eyes of his doppelganger Akki. Despite of his moving away from his humble geographical roots in India for over a decade he relentlessly embodies what any mother would be proud of having him - as her son. Not for a moment all this while did I feel that his material pursuits and well deserved possessions have been able to put even an air-brush dent to his so dutifully partaking his familial commitments. Well done mate! It’s been a true privilege to be in your good books and I do regret that I didn’t get an opportunity to make the most of your virtues while we were together many summers ago. In your own ingenious work of fiction (?) you have immortalized Akki in the eyes of all the like-minded sons and mothers. I take the liberty of dedicating your work to my own mother also as I know I won’t ever be able to make her understand as to how much do I owe to her! In fact, all of my whole being! For all my affinity to keep pouring my ideas on paper (and expecting others to patiently relate to it) I won’t be able to even remotely gather my myriad thoughts so colourfully to put them on to a canvass the way Akki has done while musing precious little about his mom.

Long live the humanity, longer live the Mother. Amen!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

The morning after.....

The morning after.....

Circa. 2013  Date: 17th Nov. Time: 7:50 A.M.

The doorbell rings on a routinely lazy but an unprecedentedly heavy Sunday morning. It is any other day in office for him, the milkman. I give him a mild stare while collecting the milk pouch. At this moment I am not at all motivated to grab the news paper from the door latch which is quite unlike me. It is possibly the most uneasy day for me in my recent collectible memory. I had to literally force myself on to the sack as late as early this morning at 4 AM after struggling with my already nocturnal turned / sleep challenged bio-system.

What to do? Am I alone to be feeling this nausea? Certainly not. The entire nation is going to wake up with a sombre contemplation of all of last 24 years' fond memories that seemed to have evaporated in a flash! It's a profound feeling and I dare not make any attempt to stake a claim that I am sufficiently endowed with such literary sensitivity to be representing even an iota of how much emotional wrecks myself and my fellow country people have collectively become in a matter of just one day!

And the common denominator among us is GOD (If it was for any other mortal human nature's forces wouldn't have colluded to get it coincided with the very day when it all started in 1989)! Com'on dude you must be kidding me. How could GOD inflict so much of universal pain on HIS disciples?

HE only could do that when people realize that unlike other 330 million deities worshipped all over since time immemorial HE descended on Earth only four decades ago & by the time HE hit sweet sixteen aficionados in us wasted no time in identifying that HE indeed was KALKI of the modern times. Alas! HE has decided to deprive all of us of his miracles from today. How & when would this feeling ever sink in? NEVER.

The ascetic prince Lord Kalki, the Lord of the universe, will mount His swift white horse Devadatta and, sword in hand, travel over the earth exhibiting His eight mystic opulences and eight special qualities of Godhead. Displaying His unequalled effulgence and riding with great speed, He will kill by the millions those thieves who have dared dress as kings.

—Bhagavata Purana, 12.2.19-20

The Puranas describe the date of Kalki's birth as twenty-one fortnights from the birth of Krishna, which itself falls on Janmashtami in August. This would put HIS descent at Vaishakha, between April and May (source: Wikipedia).

Do I need say any more as to why then have we all so collectively & convincingly believed all these years that Kalki was indeed born on 24th April 1973? A wooden willow bearing unusually more weight for lesser mortals to hold is HIS metaphor for the modern times' sword. Does HE need to swing one when HE could artistically win (and not kill) millions & millions of hearts the world over by HIS timber tool's swaying alone?

HE for sure has travelled the world over & over again and has relentlessly left a mark of HIS own each time. HE has not just eight but perhaps eighty (or more) special qualities of Godhead (depending on what all one is able to identify). There hasn't been a single flaw in HIS demeanour all this while though HIS worldly performances have suffered from an occasional dip (which also is perhaps HIS way of evidencing another virtue viz. humility). Also, just to make HIS opponents a little comfortable HE has suffered from physical pain & injuries like Tennis Elbow. S'A'CH has been HIS Lila all these years!

When HE would fight HIS motherland's aggressors the whole of it would just shut itself from any other worldly chores. And the beauty is that never did any powers try to even curb this impulsive streak in all of us. Bosses (including the toughest task masters) would ignore having noticed their team's detachment from their assigned tasks simply because they themselves would be salivating on the prospects of a building century. Deep in their hearts would they also acknowledge that nothing but another three digit produce from HIS willow would satiate the thirst of millions whose own productivity & enthusiasm would shoot manifold on any S'A'CH eventuality.

Hearts would sink with subdued sounds of 'Ooh' & 'Ah' every single time HE would smilingly showcase HIS worldly incompetencies (which existed only theoretically for HIM). The whole stadiums, coffee & pizza parlours, tea joints, paan shops, office conference rooms & wedding halls, barbers' salons and what not would simply reverberate with thumping chants of HIS name every time HE would showcase HIS signature class while executing that picture perfect straight drive or that disdainful pull or that on-the-up cover drive or that truly truly improvised paddle sweep. Complete strangers would get into a bear hug on each of HIS fours! Sworn enemies would plant a kiss on the other's cheek when HE would reach a milestone by that 'Upper cut' six! Would you & I ever be able to associate anyone else with these soul pleasing sights which became the very purpose of life?

HE has unwittingly given births to so many careers be it those incompetent commentators / writers who sheepishly knew that they just have to shower eulogies on HIM to be able to heard / read or visiting team players who would get smart with time to know that there is just one simple way to not only avoid hooting while being in India but in fact earn a support base i.e., by heaping praise on HIM. I wonder what will they now do to make their existence noticed? Not that HE needed any of it but the fact remains that countless brands made a killing just by anyhow associating themselves with HIM.

S'A'CH was our unadulterated adulation & belief in HIM that in a country infected with corruption in all walks of life no eyebrows would be raised in jealousy on hearing news of HIM signing a hitherto unheard of commercial deal. As a matter of fact many of us would raise a toast on HIM achieving any S'A'CH milestones, both on & off the field. Controversies would curse themselves on having the temerity to even think of attaching to HIM. HIS nemesis (including the Pindi Express) would eventually have to swallow their own ill intended verbal excreta.

As I said earlier HE indeed is the modern day Kalki Avatar and if anything it's we who are fortunate to have born in an era when HE for all of 24 years uninhibitedly showcased HIS Prabhu-Lila. When some idiosyncratic person sitting in a high office thinks that s/he has done something special by conferring a title on HIM & thus wants to politically capitalize on this timely Executive Decision I just can't help laughing his/her IQ off. For heavens' sake HE always was a "Bharat Ratna" whether or not HIM being called one after the formal Presidential stamping.

So, what do we do now? How to get used to the new world order after HIM leaving the scene? Hello!! HE can't ever leave the scene! HE will always be there as a guiding father figure, nurturing budding talent & instilling in them those very values which were so dear to HIM. For now & in near future I foresee HIM essaying the role of an administrator with sheer aplomb. What would HE want from us as a return gift. Just a small question to ourselves with a candid answer to it. "Kya mujhme hai Sachin?"

(C) Rits Original

Following is another musings titled "Rehabilitation" which was originally published by yours truly on 15th Oct. 2013, couldn't help redoing myself for the occasion.

Never before have I become as conscious as I am right now even as I am struggling to put words to the myriad thoughts which have been doing an indulging juggernaut for close to a week now since THE NEWS broke. I confess that I have longed to valiantly do justice to my sense of restlessness all this while before I could eventually manage control over some outrageous thoughts to put here.

At the outset, I run the risk of being stoned to pieces by all of my readers for daring to do what I finally believe remotely justifies my randomness (my apologies for this verbal diarrhoea already).

Many of us have faced at least some form of addiction to one or more of some (in)famous drugs, even if it was for a short time, active or passive. Marijuana, Cocaine & Heroin fervently fight among themselves to claim the tiara befitting the queen bee of the world's illicit drugs not many know that it is the (comparatively) humble and perfectly legal Nicotine which is hardest to let go once it clutches its addict in its vice like tentacles.

Drawing parallel in real life one could name a battery of icons (which are adored the world over) in one breath but if an Indian were to be asked to name a personality that has become a part of their nervous system it has to be unequivocally The Great "T". You give them a choice to name few more and they would have a hard time recalling who should come even remotely close in this one man "league" of extraordinary gentlemen. Sorry Mr. Big B, for all the adulation you might have received since the time you broke the popularity Zanjeer it is the dainty maestro (who was just born then) who has transcended beyond individual frustrations to have not only emerged as the SOLE & UNANIMOUS Superhero in the last quarter of a century but has also ensured that his legacy is not transferable to anyone who dares to wear this smiling assassin’s shoes. Do I add any incremental value to the debate by stating the cliché that "He has reigned over the collective conscience of the entire nation all these years".

Am I ready for the D-day when HE would do his famous little squat one last time in full public glare? How could you even ask an addict who probably got a high on HIS bespoke straight drive before she learnt her alphabets two & half decades ago to suddenly be pushed into rehabilitation centre? So what if the centre warden promises her to provide for no less intoxicating (& ostensibly addictive) cannabis cultivated in the farmhouses of Nazafgarh, Ranchi & Delhi? Could a heady concoction of all of them be even one tenth as hallucinating as THE ORIGINAL? I don't even feel like laughing over this puerile curiosity.

HE gave us the sense of belief in being able to do a Superhero all the time while still being a shy, coy boy next door. Who among us have not bunked countless lectures and/or shut our lives of everything else just to be able to focus on HIS exhibits? Go, find me a soul who has not shadow practiced the famous "Upper Cut" in the Pindi express all these years! I won't be surprised if you even end up sharing the romantic euphoria like feeling your granny had while expectantly sitting cross legged on that corner couch of your living room. Who is now going to bring that captivating, childlike exuberance back to our ecosystem that had the charisma to cast a spell on generations? Where is the father of "Dolly - The Sheep"? Can't he clone HIM in the next five weeks? I don't have the time left for me to LIVE the way I so very fondly cherish.

"Main to loonga wohi khilona, machal utha Dina ka Lal!"

(C) Rits Original

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ramlila -> Ram-leela -> Goliyon ki rasleela....Ram-Leela!!

Ramlila -> Ram-leela -> Goliyon ki rasleela....Ram-Leela!!

That's precisely how this just born baby of the self-fascinated Sanjay L. Bhansali went through its pre-birth journey in the womb of its (perpetually dreaming) creator before its umbilical cord was snapped yesterday. Incidentally it was also the very day when the modern era's Ram (as is commonly known to the Earth's inhabitants - that of Maryada Purushottam fame) was so uninhibitedly exhibiting HIS own Lila for that very last time @ HIS karmabhoomi (commonly known as Wankhede). That was the Lila not only the entire nation but rest of the cricketing world wanted to last a little beyond before it so unceremoniously got cut short by HIM only (perhaps somewhere HE only can decide HIS own fate).

When the feeling eventually sunk in that the real life Lila got to its FINALE did I (with a heavy heart of course) decide to check what a reel life Lila has to offer. It helped my confidence that I knew it was the baby of someone I have admired growing up.

What stumped me was the initial disclaimer to desperately disjoin this work of fiction with the more popular story. Why to get into all of this truly avoidable controversy unless you want it to take shape that way only? Through the running of this cinematic piece of work I couldn't help wonder that SLB indeed had "Ramlila" only at the back of his mind while camouflaging it as being inspired by the videsi "Romeo and Juliet". Just to ensure that he has his cake n eat it too SLB 'renamed' this epic twice from what it was intended to be known as.

First up, guys just do not take your young kids to this noise-pollution & soft-porn drama. After sharing my concern on Krrish 3 just few days ago for similar reasons it came as a rude shock to notice that this one too could manage to skip through our dreaded censor board which so generously awarded it a U/A!! I ask them "on what grounds"? There is definitely something crazy with the sensitivity of these people sitting in high offices. Or is it that they have also joined the "corruption only" mantra (blossoming give and take relationship) of the UPA in whatever they do? This is an out and out adult entertainer!! Period. Take your toddlers & adolescents along at your peril only. I might sound old fashioned but don't curse me later for not having warned you well in advance. Now having said that I take liberty to do a critique on this purely as a "for adults" movie (or I’ll have to struggle really hard to rate it later).

Before the movie started an interesting, small but impactful audio-visual clip showcasing the virtues of Dolby Atmos was shown and it truly left all the viewers in awe! Few minutes into the saga did I realize as to why that hitherto subtly boasted asset of an auditorium was launched in the public conscience (as a USP) today only. If ever there was a contest to nominate for the cine experience with the maximum decibel generated on a sound meter during its run-time Ram-Leela would beat everything else hands down.

SLB believes that everything he does (or as his audience would expect him to deliver) has to be just perfect. That explains why his works are just too good to be true. All his sets appear to be replica of how an Indra's courtyard would hypothetically look like. There is not a single shade of imperfection or sub-standardness in his most ambitious project till date. But what about the basic set-up?

In today's times where in Gujarat would you be able to visualize a village where rounds of guns are fired more than the number of times all the villagers would collectively relieve themselves of nature's calls during the course of a day? Where a sex-parlour running Casanova would be able to so openly (and acceptably as well!) get into one-night stands with virtually all village girls? Where despite all his infamy on his weakness of looking at all females as nothing more than sex objects the most gorgeous of them all would feel "head-over-heel" on him at the very first sight itself?

Weird as it may sound but the so-called chemistry between the lead pair is nothing more than their unabashed ability to portray lust in their eyes towards each other every time they meet (or greet each other over phones)! There is absolutely no such thing as romance between them as the filmmaker would want us to believe. Generously infused with double meaning references it's just plain "Lust" all the time (if the villagers' guns are resting meanwhile).

Oops! I just forgot that I am actually penning my views on a film for a "mature" audience (which may still not have evolved to be comfortable watching it with their families).

As said earlier, set designing indeed is a hallmark of this story. To compliment it picturization is equally brilliant. Especially, the songs make you feel as if you have got teleported to a royal & grand Mogul Darbar.

As for individual performances, Ranveer has an inherent rustic appeal to his personality & overall demeanour. He knows it jolly well and makes no bones about it publicly. On screen he is shamelessly at ease with his act. Deepika has been seen in similar roles earlier as well but in a rural setting also she pulls off her character's demand astonishingly brilliantly. As a control freak Supriya Pathak Shah packs a punch and I couldn't help feel she has been wasting her immense talent all these years just sitting at home! Come on Supriya. Bindu's fans have been wanting her successor for long and you are just fitting it to the 'Tee'!!

I would rate this strictly "not for family viewing" portrayal at 8 on REndex. If you put a gun on my temple forcing me to give it a more popular rating for masses it can never be more than 4 (and that too considering the fact that in urban multiplex audience kids are already exposed to PSP's & FTV when they still are of a very impressionable age).

(C) Rits Original

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bud-day musings

Bud-day musings

Ah! Another year just passed by in a flash & there was little I could do about my greying all this while. Just as I am feeling peevish on one crucial technicality in my bio data changing for worse (as virtually all of my medico-legal rights / insurance premiums turned immensely costlier in the matter of few minutes as midnight struck) here comes a truly unexpected notification. Voila! It's a wedding invitation from a close friend who had studied with me in my post graduation course almost a decade ago!! Goodness gracious me! My buddies are still getting married & that means I am not as old as the world would so desperately want me to feel. What an anti climax of sorts! Agreed that I was not the youngest of them all in my PG course (unlike my engineering days when I would get bullied just for being one of the youngest) I suddenly feel like a Nouveau Borne all over again! Thanks a zillion buddy for breaking this news just at the right time!! You just made all my gloom fade in a jiffy!

Coming back to the significance of this momentous day in the history of mankind (pun intended) it indeed marked the birth of someone who would have the audacity to intrude into your thoughts every now & then. Yeah, along the way, some of the casualties either humbly "requested" (just as they loved me too much to make me feel bad) to "unsubscribe" them from the list of my intellectual "victims" or they just so royally snubbed me in front of an August audience,  forcing me to have a look at the mirror again (to get some real grounding).

Did any of it deter me from setting on to my next (mis)adventure? Dare I say, "not really". It only made me realize my innate strengths & weaknesses as a person first and as a writer later. With my head bowed unconditionally in front of all of "constructive" criticism I would get re-energized for my next fate-accompli just on sporadic encouragements (even from some unexpected quarters at times).

In between all of it I tried to understand all of those who I genuinely believe are doing me a great favour by complimenting my only passion (of writing & just writing) by devoting their so precious time over (reading) it and occasionally sharing their feedback with me.

Here is presenting my understanding (evolved over a reasonable period of time) of all of my message "recipients".

To each his own!

Some of the people have suggested that it becomes ritualistic to just observe a post from me & like it on FB without even reading it! How ordinary stuff? To those who seriously believe that social media (at times) is obligatory I have a humble submission. No one, I repeat, no one can force anyone else (from his/her social circles) on "liking" something, even out of courtesy if the wavelengths of the two don't match and resonance like phenomena is not created between them as a transmitter and a receiver.

I must have at least 500 people I am in regular touch with, both personally as well as professionally. I must be a fool if I were to expect them to be reading all of my stuff thrown upon them. They may not even notice it, forget about liking it or not. At the same time those who honour me by finding precious time from their lives to read my not so "easy on head" n at times irritating pieces just don't like it all the time as a "thumb rule". I don't expect them to do so either.

I have also realized that there are variety of people (among my fancied readers). Many just don't bother to have a look, not 'coz I have composed it & they hold a non-negotiable grudge against me but as they don't read ANYTHING which goes beyond few words & few of them are my best of friends.

A slightly lesser no. gets encouraged to take the plunge (may be basis past motivation about the way I might have narrated then) but then are forced to lose their trust midway as I might not have lived up to their expectation this time (this segment is my biggest concern & I just can't stop ridiculing myself enough for having broken their faith in me).

The third set is of "egoists" who secretly go through what I might have expressed but feel that they shouldn't give me any importance by publicly admitting that they DID read my piece. I know many of them & I just laugh it out in my own head.

Then the last segment which is that of naysayers who wouldn't care to spend one second on what they just happened to notice but would react immediately as a habit. (I would be surprised if even a single person who has ever "liked" any of my posts would have done it as a reflex action and/or out of sheer courtesy though the reverse is not incorrect). Many of them just compulsively mock & so brashly try to pull me down. I know that they do it out of either inferiority complex (since they know that not even in their wildest imagination would they be able to match up to me in this art) or superiority complex (since they feel better accomplished / privileged for whatever reasons).

I just DO NOT care about this last set and it simply doesn't bother me. No matter how hard I try to please them they would still be behaving obnoxiously so what's the point in wasting my time on them? I would rather concentrate on humbly acknowledging my "genuine" critics who know that I know their feedback. That's just good enough for me to keep going & even one such value input (regardless of it being positive or disturbing) does go a seriously long way in me burning the midnight oil on penning my next work (no pun intended).

In between all of it if someone comes up with a genuine appreciation comparing me with (n even finding me better than) a popular writer that sort of makes my day though I am careful to still take that with a pinch of salt. I have a long, long way to go before I fancy anything crazy. I know I just have to be cautious in figuring out who is my serious critic n who is just any other Tom, Dick or Harry. Period.

As for my style of writing I know that it definitely doesn't suit everyone's appetite & I have realized that I can't really help it either. It's my known handicap. I know that loss is entirely mine only as eventually I won't ever have as many admirers (if at all I could dare to call them) as any wanna be writer would fantasize about but that's that! As said already, as long as I have JUST ONE individual whose intellect (or the lack of it) GENUINELY matches with that of mine I stand vindicated.

I take this opportunity to trespass into your lives once again and whether you like it or not I seek your blessings with folded hands. Please do not act stingy in showering them. Bouquet or brickbats, I shall gracefully accept them with a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart. Thanks all of you, just for being there and for tolerating me all these years. Trust me guys, you have become only mentally stronger by doing so ;)

(C) Rits Original

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Diwali Reflections...

Diwali Reflections

They say, "Diwali is a festival of infinite lights & we celebrate it with gay abandon to commemorate the famous victory of good over evil" (as it finds its maiden reference in the Hindu mythology when on the occasion of Lord Rama returning back to his constituency Ayodhya after a hiatus of 14 years and immediately after conquering the all mighty devil king Ravana his folks got jubilant and made merry while unleashing all their quota of fun which was suppressed for all these years).

To me it is an opportunity to purge our whole beings of all the impurities we have so (in)voluntarily stuffed in our systems in the past one year. It is also a chance we give to ourselves to let bygones be bygones and make wish for a fresh beginning. For some of us who have had a remarkable last year we celebrate our happiness by bursting fire crackers & by distributing sweets among our near & dear ones. For others who didn't exactly have a noteworthy outing out there it is another fresh dawn today full of promises for the next twelve months (or so) allowing us to get the monkey off our shoulders and make a resolution that we shall strive hard to set the record straight as we bow our heads with uncompromised faith in front of the elephant God Ganesh & Goddess of wealth Lakshmi.

This is also one such festival which helps bonding the losen strings as all family members make it a point to rush to a common reunion joint, mostly their parental homes. No matter where they are across the globe they engineer their plans in such a way (months in advance) that on this day they get to greet each other.

To all those who couldn't find a reason to cherish today, "Go, find your happiness in the smallest pleasures of life. Just don't sulk or wander about with no purpose. Life is so full of surprises, and i am sure you can easily find at least few pleasant ones to bring a cheer to your sombre mood. If not anything else, read this post at least once again along with the never ending archives of the author on his blog but please...." and yes, make merry but do responsibly top it up by making it peacefully rocking!


Festively yours

(C) Rits Original

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Krrish3 -> Kkkrriissh'N'(??!!)

Krrish3 -> Kkkrriissh'N'(??!!)

Those who have had basic exposure to algebra in their formative years won't sweat a pain in figuring out that 'N' stands for a variable whose real world value could be anything & theoretically it could indeed 'tend' towards infinity. So, should this be the guiding principle for even the "thinking" filmmakers as they conceive sequels to their "original" labour of love? Well, there are two school of thoughts on this. The idealists would condemn the very idea of stretching the inches on a worn out suit's waistline even if its owner has written his/her most cherished success stories while donning it. The more practical ones would espouse the cause of milking the cash cow nonchalantly. Some of the Hollywood franchise have done it remarkably well over and over again. In Bollywood the idea doesn't exactly set the box office on fire by each of the successors of the original classics.

Krrish3 takes over from where its last avatar left us dazed after we savoured the original's 'Jadoo' in "Koi Mil Gaya". And thinking man of his craft that he is (this one is his just the third serving in 10 years!) Rakesh Roshan knows how to evolve with times. K3 is an out n out exhibition of modern age state of the art special effects. Throughout the 150 minute length of this tale of good prevailing over bad they are liberally injected (so much as to create a sense of an overkill at times). We have been witness to some of the most tacky of them in other so-called "Super Hero" bolly ventures but one has to see K3 to get the real goose bumps. Alright, the heavy dose of VFX appears outrigthly impractical in many of the scenes but their sheer sophisticated execution render them more than the desirable credibility. Why to be nit picking always? We are here to watch a Sci-fi fiction only & not to solve a real life murder mystery. A job well done indeed!

What leaves a sour taste in mouth is the music composed by the ever-so-reliable in-house young brother of the Captain marvel. This has to go down as the worst ever album the family team has cut. Save the hummable "Raghupati Raghav" all the compositions just unnecessarily interferes in the engrossing audio-visual extravagenza and are immediately forgettable.

In his father-son double roles the Indian "Greek" Hero once again stands out from the crowd of his contemporaries. There is something about his persona that makes him "by default" a credibly likable superstar. He doesn't have to do anything special to garner his fans' adulation but his innate honesty reflects in each frame he is present. Nobody from Bollywood should even try to do what he so effortlessly manages to do. Even after decades of sipping his last Martini onscreen Sir Sean Connery still is the last word when it comes to naming the most believable Bond, James Bond. History will prove that if ever there was one Superhero in Bollywood it was Hrithik Roshan. Period. Uske aage baaki sab paani kam chai hain.

The surprise package of this fight between human race & an army of mutants is Kangna. She looks just so near perfect in her characterization that you might get shiver down your spine if you end up seeing her in flash n blood after the show is over. Her emotional vulnerability also comes out very well. Her role is much more ingrained with the plot than that of her bete-noire Priyanka and to her credit she has actually managed to overshadow (would you believe it) PC! The villainery of Vivek Oberoi keeps on oscillating between being subtly scary & sub par. His casting could have been a borderline case as there is no dearth of mean spirits in aamchi Mumbai. Surprisingly, the mutants' roles were not developed enough as they were supposedly the USP's (Unique Selling Propositions) of this episode of the franchise.

Though I personally had a blast for most of the movie's duration (which my three other companions found amusing as at best they were neutral in their review) I have a serious complaint with the Krrish team. It has projected (or it be perceived as such) young kids as its main audience but it has not evidenced sensitivity associated with young impressionable minds while depicting all the loud & prolonged violences (which were indeed graphical in many such scenes). Censor Board should come up with something like "Only 12+" or "PG" (Parental Guidance) certification for such maniacal display of brute power on silver screen.

K3 gets 7.5 on REndex.

(C) Rits Original                                       

Monday, October 28, 2013

25 Hours at the Charles de Gaulle

I wrote the attached piece titled “25 Hours at the Charles de Gaulle” some eight summers ago on 23rd Dec. 2005 while being stranded at THE Charles-de-Gaule airport & haplessly cursing my travel agent for having me booked through this scumbag of a union of the two most unprofessional airlines any customer might have seen. And I am not being remotely sarcastic while I say so, especially since so much water has flown down the river all these years. Such was the impact of this episode on my psyche that I don’t get amazed anymore whenever I see a media report on how Air France has crossed all the limits of professional decorum and how it has ill-treated its Indian patrons as if all of them are perpetually booked on free tickets and just don’t deserve any humane touch. It’s disheartening to observe that Air France still is the very same haughty carrier it has been since its inception and in all earnestness deserves a kick out of India for good.

The reason why today I got so agitated is the following link which one of my friends has shared (knowing that I had a similar story). I do not find it exaggerated even one bit as I empathize with the aggrieved Air France passenger in entirety.

Best regards
Ritesh Garg

25 Hours at the Charles de Gaulle

An Open Letter to
A)    The CEO (& President) of Delta Airlines, Inc.;
B)     The CEO (& President) of Air France;
C)    The Department of Immigration, The Republic of France;
D)    The Airport Authority of The Republic of France

Honourable Sir(s)/Madam(s),

Warm greetings!

At the onset, I wish to describe the context of this letter. The subject matter of this draws its inspiration from my harrowing experiences at the Charles-de-Gaulle airport on 23rd and 24th Dec 2005. There are several individuals & organizations who were the key actors in making it a truly (un)forgettable one for the rest of my life as it has left a permanent impression on my conscious (and to some extent subconscious) being. Please close this text if you do not have time to go thru the frame-by-frame mode of this description. I anyway can afford to write this piece as I have ample time to put my words here with nothing else to do at the airport for the whole day. Also, I strongly feel that not many people can appreciate the gravity of the trauma I’d gone thru if I don’t detail the chain of events.

For the reference following is the itinerary (PNR No. PJWRPZ/DL) that I was supposed to complete for my return visit to my country India from the USA.

1. Thursday 22nd Dec 2005: Atlanta to Paris
Carrier: Delta Air Lines; Flight No.: DL 050
Scheduled Departure from Atlanta at 18:45 Hrs EST;
Scheduled Arrival at Paris at 09:25 Hrs (Next day i.e., 23rd Dec 2005) Paris Local Time

2. Friday 23rd Dec 2005: Paris to Delhi
Carrier: Delta Air Lines; Flight No.: DL 8650 (Operated by Air France; Flight No.: AF 148)
Scheduled Departure from Paris at 10:30 Hrs Paris Local Time
Scheduled Arrival at Delhi at 23:00 Hrs IST

Actual Timings
1.      Actual Departure from Atlanta at 19:30 Hrs EST
Actual Arrival at Paris at 10:05 Hrs (Next day i.e., 23rd Dec 2005) Paris Local Time
2.      Actual Departure from Paris at 10:30 Hrs (Not too sure though) Paris Local Time

Role of Key Players
1. Delta Air Lines
My discomfort started at Atlanta itself when the flight did not take-off at the right time and got delayed by almost 45 minutes. The reasoning given by the carrier was that it required more time to clean the aircraft completely. I wonder what they were doing all thru the day if there wasn’t any other reason associated with it.

Midway on board when I noticed that the flight would not reach to its destination at the right time I had notified about my concerns to one of the flight attendants so that it remains in her mind but she had taken it very casually and hardly had given any serious thought to it.

The flight finally landed at Charles-de-Gaulle almost 40 minutes behind its schedule i.e., at 10:05 Hrs. I was amazed to hear one particular announcement about the ground crew taking the travelers flying to Mumbai by their flight at 11:00 Hrs but surprisingly there was no mention about the flight I was to board to Delhi even though it was more critical in terms of passengers missing it at that time. During debarking, I had asked a crew-member to check if there had been any special arrangements for the Delhi passengers to get them boarded in time but that was not the case and they didn’t even bother to notice my anxiety. I was told that I need to take the airport shuttle bus to go to the terminal where my flight was ready to take-off. I rushed up to catch it but could hardly afford to reach terminal 2F at 10:50 Hrs when I noticed that my flight had already took off. During all this mad rush, I was helplessly searching for a Delta crew-member but unfortunately could not notice one.

2. Air France
Desperately I hurried to the counter of Air France and immediately started asking for help showing my sense of discomfort quite clearly to everybody present there but its staff was indifferent to my problem and asked me to wait in the queue. I do not blame on their procedures but I did expect that they would pay heed to the sense of emergency that I was showing. After 15 minutes I finally got the chance to speak to one of them and I immediately suggested him a practical solution recalling that, perhaps a couple of other flights to India could still be there on the terminal but they rejected it. They also were not concerned about the issue as it involved the other carrier and they did not deem it their fault (so what if they’ve a Sky team partnership among them with others). Of course, it was not but keeping in mind their interdependent business association, it was not unfair to expect a few minutes of wait they could have afforded in delaying the flight to Delhi. In fact, Delta did exactly the opposite during my journey from India to Atlanta via the same route and had waited for more than an hour to accommodate those passengers whose flight(s) got delayed. Perhaps they have different work practices (or better still relative power in their businesses).

They told me that I could get only the next day’s same flight i.e., after 24 hours. I suggested them to route me from anywhere in the world to India but they rejected this idea as well. They were kind enough to book a room for me in a hotel in the city subject to the issuance of the Transit Visa by the Immigration Officials at the airport.

After one hour, I got this news that my Visa application was rejected and I would have to spend the whole day at the airport itself. This did not make my misery any less.

3. Immigration (or Police) department of the Paris airport
I asked the Air France officials if I could myself request the police to reconsider their decision and issue me a Transit Visa. They got scared and advised me not to approach them. I anyway went to their office but its scene was as anticipated by the airline employees. The officers were not in fact interested in listening to me and worse, they did not even disclose the reason for their unfair decision. I do not challenge their authority and rightfulness in refusing me a Visa but at the same time, I cannot find any rationale for them not explaining their stance and being very rude to me as if I have a criminal record. I had valid documents and logic to support my application. It simply was a very inhuman behaviour. I sense some racial discrimination here which my friends also had told me about.

2 (a). Air France
I asked the airline if they could allow me the access to their lounge but the lounge supervisor simply refused it sighting the reason that this facility is only for the business class travelers even though I was ready to pay the necessary charges to use it. Here they tried to soothe my pain by giving me three snacks coupons, which I had hard time to accept with all that agony going around in my mind and body.

When I told them my concerns for a bad health after all this and asked them if they could upgrade my ticket to an upper class with the option of my paying difference. The duty supervisor took a note of this and told that it could only be done if there are seats available and I can get it checked with the crew members at the time of boarding.

4. The Charles-de-Gaulle Airport
I had heard very highly about this airport from my friends and colleagues but quite candidly, it turned out to be a place better only then hell for a stranger i.e., a non-French. I ran around the airport to find a suitable place to sit and get relaxed but after almost 6 hours of search, finally gave up and have to make myself contend with sitting in this unruly corner which only the most underprivileged citizens of any country would find comfortable to spend a whole night (after a frustrating day).

I am even more surprised to notice that this huge and fabulous (?) airport does not even have a commercial lounge for emergency use by a hapless passenger. To make the matters worse there is no cloakroom where I could have put my luggage and get relieved of the tension of its security. It’s quite unbelievable that if you run out of your water bottle you’d have a hard time in finding potable water as all the shops are closed by 21:00 Hrs and I cant notice any tap. Of course there are vending machines but if you don’t have Euro coins with you it won’t help. I tried locating some water resource and finally could notice it only in the police office. When I requested for a glass of water they denied it very inhumanly. On my asking for an alternate they suggested me to get it from the toilettes. Can anyone claim it to be a civilized behaviour from responsible people? I doubt if they could’ve dared to give the same advice to any of their fellow French.

It’s all the more laughable as I notice one big placard at the CDG airport terminal B on “Passenger Rights” issued by the European Commission. It details about different unforeseen circumstances and the enforcing passenger rights on them. I doubt if here “Passenger” include non-Europeans.

Next day
2 (b). Air France
At the time of boarding I inquired about the availability of an upper class seat from the crew but was told by the flight Marshall that they are full. After half an hour of the departure I could very easily see that almost 15 to 20 seats are unoccupied in the Business Class. I couldn’t believe this and very clearly told the flight attendant that there was no need of the Marshall telling me a lie and he could’ve expressed his inability to upgrade my ticket without doing so. After some time the Marshall himself came to me. He gave me the reasoning that at that time they didn’t anticipate that so many seats would go empty. I find this explanation quite laughable.

During all this frustration (it no more is as I’ve come to terms with it), I found one common theme in that almost every process is so rigid that even if somebody wants to help you, s/he won’t be allowed to do so. I simply cannot appreciate it even though I am myself a big advocate of procedures in both my personal and professional life.

Today for the first time in my life so far, I am feeling what the plight of a stray dog is as my position is no better than him and quite surprisingly, I am not feeling bad about accepting it.

Quite ironically though, this day will always be one of the most significant days of my life as I am feeling more proud to be an Indian. So what if, India is still considered to be a third world country by many so-called civilized nations and it still is ranked very lowly in the Human Development Index by the UN, it still is the most humane place to live in for all practical purposes. I can claim (with no fear of rebuttal by anybody in this world) that we Indians relate to every bit of pain felt by anybody even if s/he is not one of our fellow citizens. I salute my country and its entire people for their empathic, sympathetic and more importantly helping nature.

Ritesh Garg

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Customer Service Delivery – A Mirage?

Customer Service Delivery – A Mirage?

No question could ever be so open ended as the one above. Ask any executive who is working as a CSD (Customer Service Delivery) executive in any of the product / service company and s/he would give you a bad stare in your face as if to point that it was indeed a stupid query and which doesn’t merit any answering. Such is the state of affairs that many consider it to be a “punishment posting” if they are asked to serve in the dreaded CSD unit by their peeved bosses. Why is this perceived so? With my personal experience I can deduce that in most of the cases the situation is not as bad as it eventually shapes into and the only reason of it getting into a rotten apple is when people try to run away from their dark silhouettes (read bad karmas) and when they simply can’t find an escape route they inadvertently end up going bonkers! Isn’t it true? Think of it. An organization which is into the profession of selling delicate services makes tall claims only to be exposed by one of its duped customers who refuses to take it lying down and that’s when the misery of this braggart’s CSD starts.

So what should a poor CSD executive do in this tricky scenario wherein s/he entirely relates to the client’s agony but at the same time has no option but to stick on to his/her ground first to evince loyalty to his/her employer and also to minimize the damage (which unfortunately always is thought in terms of its monetary value) thus earning some brownie points for his/her annual appraisal? It thus becomes a vicious circle and the aggrieved customer ends up bad mouthing about this insensitive culprit. The unfortunate part is that most of these culprits chose to ignore such customers and move on in their lives myopically thinking what damage a lone drop (the aggrieved customer) from the ocean (the entire target set) could do to its business interests! It’s a fallacy which is their undoing, of course in long run.

There are few CSD executives who take it on to them to make good a bad customer experience and would go out of their way to ensure that it eventually turns into an unforgettable (and possibly cherishable) experience for their life time. Such is the sensitivity & empathy of these CSD personnel that the hitherto irked customer becomes their best pal for the moment and s/he leaves handling of his/her grievances entirely in the hands of these brand ambassadors. This is how a CSD function should work and indeed be made enjoyable (unlike when the executive goes home and curses himself/herself for his/her professional miseries). Why should they pay the price for their organization’s compromised / unhealthy / unethical business practices / strategies? These executives should indeed earn the best rating points on pro-rata basis (for all such customers who got annoyed for some reason but became repeat customers later on) in their performance appraisal and should be made mentors to the rookies.

Long live the customer. Long live CSD.

(C) Rits Original

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

iMAX Gravity - just fall for it!!

iMAX Gravity - just fall for it!!

For whatever reasons, I was getting desperate to have a dekko of Gravity (in not just 3D but IMAX 3D) @ the famed IMAX Wadala ONLY though I hate the very thought of travelling that far, just for a damn movie & considering the fact that the far better approachable PVR Phoenix was also running it in THE IMAX 3D version. On a public holiday I somehow let my craving rule over my rationality & booked the ticket at a steep price of 630 bucks apiece. Yeah, there was a slightly more affordable variety at 430 on menu as well but for once I just couldn't allow any possible mediocrity to come in my way of a well hyped experience.

On my way to the theatre I was having a guilt consciousness even as I struggled to reach the venue (just for the 2nd time in all of my seven years in Mumbai, after the premiere of Jodha Akbar on 14th Feb. 2008) which for some inexplicable reasons has been set up in a far off (from the main Mumbai suburbs on Western line) & secluded surroundings which in itself is a great dampener.

Before the movie screening began they ran the trailer of "The Hobbits" & those 2-3 minutes were just mind boggling to arouse the interest for the main course on offer. As the grand opening sequence began (would you believe it’s a 20 minute single long shot!) I immediately realized that the movie is without the sub titles! Zeejus Christ, how am I gonna enjoy this engrossed affair without them? I just hate any Hollywood offering without they making life easier for people like me who learnt their alphabets when they were just on the cusp between an adolescent & a teenager and who didn't exactly grew up among the most ornamental accents within their earshot range.

Anyway, who cares when the sound & video quality of the auditorium appears to be at least 100 times more profound than ever! When you feel the smoke inside the space suit’s helmet (due to heavy breathing of the protagonists) as if it's on your retina (when there indeed is nothing around your face, apart from the 3D glasses of course) you know you gonna get every single penny's worth with rich dividends. I, before realizing my basic handicap, felt getting the drift myself in THE SPACE like the two astronauts in lady killer George Clooney & the tomboyish Sandra Bullock!

Half way through this tale of a survival you notice that this is all about Ms. Bullock. Oh baby! What a life time award winning performance & that too while eclipsing Sir Clooney! Sandra, you can safely retire on a high after this and not allow any sure shot degradation from here on (unlike our revered cricketers) as you just can't better it! As Doctor Astronaut Ryan Stone she huffs n puffs (literally) all through the 90 minute length of this Alphonso's labour of love (what fitting first name for the director of this masterpiece). Her vulnerability is so very believable that you feel as if she is portraying your own fears & insecurities (albeit in space). What command over her body language! Priceless. I had an infatuated teenager's crush on her after Speed but now I am retrospectively in love with her!

Absolute silence of the space is brilliantly captured. The sound effects used for showcasing the tranquillity of the outer space & for depicting a space shuttle's innate unnerving calmness are indeed so ethereal. Visual effects are just beyond description though the canvas is not as monstrous and vivid as was in the James Cameron's Avatar. Delicate umbilical cord like space tandem rope to heavy meteoric showers to the raging fire in the space shuttle all of it look so credible!

Riding entirely on the Bullock's shoulder this motion picture is one for the collector's library. I won't be surprised if it's Blue Ray version actually helps doubling the sale of 3D televisions in the inflation hit festive season. I would have to look for a sub-titled version to allow me savour this queen of the dishes among all firang offerings. One thing is for sure though. My next Wadala visit doesn't look like is going to take 6 years now even if that means that my wallet would have to take some serious beating. BIG Cinemas, could you be one of my blog sponsors please?

Go guys, you have earned some shameless indulgence for yourself in these times of completely despicable Besharam performances.

(C) Rits Original
Typos be excused (since as usual it also is typed on Evernote free version on my Galaxy S4)