Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Three Idiots, and Other Cool Things.

"So, you're telling me Three Idiots are going to watch 'Three Idiots'". Superna Kapur, 29th December 2009.

Yeah, so, I apologise for my mother's alleged sense of humour. Alleged in italics, like The Times of India* has taken to writing. As you have gathered, I went to watch 'Three Idiots' yesterday. With two of my friends. Neither of whom are idiots.

I was completely bowled over by the film at the time. I loved it. I have never been so bowled over by a film, not even Milk, which I watched, dry-eyed, in a hall full of weeping people who, furthermore, kept quiet during the movie. I loved this film despite a kid screaming "Mama, Susu aa rahi hai" when [spoiler alert] the examination paper is being leaked. It's exuberant and easy to relate to if you've been in college recently- in some cases, a little too close for comfort. It leaves you laughing at most places, and (not entirely unusually if you are as soppy as me) crying once or twice. It's amusing, even at points where the humour is hackneyed and less-skilled actors/directors would have you rolling your eyes. The innuendoes are not, for the most part, overdone- which is a merciful blessing. The movie starts off well, and progressively gets better until the interval. After the interval, the plot falters a bit, and lapses into a collection of vignettes rather than an actual film, but soon gets back on track, and gives us a true-Hindi film meet Wodehouse climax, where nobody is unhappy at all.

It also shows a lot of Delhi (always a good thing as far as I am concerned), and cocks a snook at some of Hindi cinema's holy cows. The long-suffering mother, the villainous Seth, the 'Apaahij' father and the 'Ayaash Beta' all come up for their share of flak. Of course, being a Bollywood film, it does have wild coincidences, and really insane scenes when vacuum cleaners are used to assist a woman in voiding her womb, but well, that is, after all, what makes Hindi films what they are. I mean, who would really want to see what an IIT-ian's life is all about? Six hours of physics, an hour of oiling one's hair, and twenty four hours of sexual frustration are not what I would pay good money to watch.*

All in all, it was an enjoyable film, though Why one needed to go to Vasant Kunj from Daryaganj to get to a decent hospital was beyond me.

Jumping from one engineering college story to another, I recently read the delightful "Oops...I fell in love....Just by Chance..." by another of Shrishti Publication's finds. (Aishwarya has referred to another oeuvre of this publication house here). The book is notable for the way it blends traditional Indian values with modernity - a protagonist evidently has three of every kind of imported underwear because three is his lucky number. It also demonstrates acute sensitivity towards queer people- the author thoughtfully points out that only the "non-gay" section of IIT suffers from sexual frustration. An encounter with "a gay" at trendy malls in Delhi is also dealt with with the wit and humour which is a hallmark of the house of Shrishti- a kick in the balls is to be recommended to those of us who have had to deal with unwanted same-sex advances. The romance in the story is brilliantly portrayed; what woman could resist a man who saves her from (gasp!) being coated with chocolate by her friends! No, what?

The author also shows feeling for italics. One suspects he has taken to writing for the Times of India. Or- and equally probably- that the Times of India recruits from amongst these literary genii.

My interest in the author meant I researched a little about him. After all, to be 22 and have a book published is no mean task. After all, Rushdie (Harsh's inspiration) hadn't published a book at 22. Nor had Coatzee [sic], another of his favourite authors. Harsh informs readers of the IIT- E Magazine that he does not grudge them their success- after all, as he sagely points out, "their books have a world of their own". Harsh's inspiration for his own magnus opus is interesting- a blast in Mehrauli in 2008 served to unlock his creative juices, though, as he points out, he had already written for the aforementioned E-Magazine, which had, for some obscure reason, failed to recognise his talent earlier! Fear not, Harsh, their loss (to quote a marginally more-celebrated author)parallels the story of the base Indian who threw away a pearl richer than his tribe!

To us- who have not yet seen our name decorating the cover of a book, Harsh offers constructive advice. Confidence, he says, is the key. When one is convinced one's book could stand on the same shelf as Sidney Sheldon or Coatzee [sic], there will be light! "The light", he goes on to tell us, "that will dazzle you with humility and self-pride at the same time." One waits, earnestly, for such light to shine upon us.

Harsh acknowledges, however, that his books are prone to one criticism- that of being reminiscent of other books dealing with life in IIT. To counteract this, he offers us a sneak peak into his second novel, which is being written as I type. The book deals with the life of a person afflicted with AIDS,which I am sure he will handle with the sensitivity he has so aptly demonstrated. One waits, eagerly, for his latest.

* Apologies to Manu and Siddharth.

Monday, December 21, 2009

No Heading, Just Stories

Much has changed since the last time I blogged, not least my mood. Seven weeks in Delhi have done much to make it better. While I still haven't figured out things, I'm more optimistic than I ever was about life.

I just read Siddharth's blog. I've spoken enough about my loving Delhi to not type my usual paeans of praise for the city again. The post made me think, though, of when I fell in love with the city. I concluded it was relatively recent- until about 2003, I hadn't thought of the city- atleast, not as a city. To me, parts of it were just home. It's only when I started travelling alone that the charms of the city unfolded themselves.

I read a book once which talked about how all cities live in one's imagination- that one's love for cities stems from the way one visualises them in one's mind. That made sense to me, for ironically, what initially drove me to explore the city was the fact that it was supposed to be like Lahore- and at that time, with my interest in Pakistan- and Lahore - being at its' peak, I started exploring the city. trying to discover traces of what Lahore was in what Delhi is. Sometime in that discovery, I fell in love with Delhi, and the charms of the actual Delhi displaced the hold of the other, elusive, imaginary city that had so captivated me. In doing so, I learnt more about India and its' past. For a history buff who had been singularly umimpressed with Indian history, the city I'd lived in made me realise how blind I had been.

Moving on from what threatens to become another eulogy of the city, it's been a fun month and a bit. I interned at a place where I really enjoyed myself,and went on my first trip alone to Jaipur with friends. Various interesting things happened there. I got drunk every night for a while there- with rather dismaying results one night, discovered that all of my friends were, in fact, b......s (!), and saw the most amazing places in India. I also discovered I had evolved from the time I thought all religion was nonsense- in fact, I was almost at tears at the Dargah at Ajmer, one of the most wonderful places I have visited. Along with the light and sound show at Amer, that made the trip an awesome memory- the fact that one was there with friends made it unforgettable. In other bits of wisdom, I discovered it was possible to go for a holiday and not eat any non-vegetarian food, and enjoy the trip nonetheless! Not to mention the fact that people, generally, are usually a lot nicer than we give them credit for.

The trip deserves a lot more, but I think posting a few pictures will be a better idea, not least because it is 2 am, and I wish to sleep. Readers, wait excitedly, photos will soon be put up!