Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Great Snakes!

A Tintin movie we will be graced with soon. Exciting stuff! We have had a few Asterix movies over the years. The last one being Asterix and the Vikings which was released in April last year (based on Asterix and the Normans). Not sure if the movie (which is animated - good old 2D animation at that - no Cars and The Invincibles jazz) did well. Haven't seen any traces of the movie here although the hardback comicbook with the same title is widely available. Search on the web doesn't show up many favourable reviews for the movie. The last live Asterix movie was released in 2002 - Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. Sony Pix recently screened the movie on cable TV. I somehow wasn't able watch the movie even for a little while since I didn't like it at all. No offence to Gerard Depardieu, he may be a wonderful actor but he is no Underzo's Obelix. Often when comic book characters transcend to the movies, it can affect the man in the comic. I now can't picture the face of Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne as they are in the Marvel or DC Comics. The faces of Toby Maguire and Christian Bale cloud the mind. Maybe I liked the Batman and Spiderman movies because the real heros - Batman and Spiderman are defined more by the costumes (which are portrayed pretty well in the movies) they wear and not by their alter egos - Parker and Wayne. But show me a Gerard Depardieu with a wig in a blue and white striped pants - I won't see Obelix because an Obelix without the large nose, the exaggerated slipped chest, huge arms, the bright yellow pigtails is not Obelix - all I will see is a large French actor.

What I am trying to come to is that I am really happy that the Tintin trilogy (Yes! Three movies. The first one is to be directed by Spielberg, the second by Peter Jackman) will be animated movies. That is a good thing. Movies like Finding Nemo, Shrek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are testament to the huge advances made in computer animation and it's application to movies. I feel that there is a high chance that the magic of the Herge characters will be captured on the big screen. Time will tell but I have my fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, if you think you know your Tintin covers, grab a pencil and take the quiz. Cheating encouraged. Any opportunity to grab a Tintin is not to be squandered.

1. On which cover(s) can we not see Tintin's face?
2. On which cover(s) can we not see Snowy?
3. Which cover(s) depict a land vehicle?
4. Which cover(s) contain examples of foreign writing?
5. Which cover(s) are set inside, as opposed to outdoors?
6. On which cover(s) do the Thompsons appear?
7. Which cover depicts a moment that comes earliest in the story?
8. Which cover depicts a moment that comes latest in the story?
9. Which cover depicts a moment that does not appear in the story at all?
10.On which cover(s) is Tintin the only live human?

The answers are posted in the comments section.

All 10 correct - You are a Thundering Typhoon
More than 8 correct - You are a Blue Blistering Barnacle
More than 5 correct - You are a Cachinnating Cockatoo
More than 3 correct - You are a Jellied Eel!
More than 1 correct - You are a Duck-billed Platypus
1 correct - You are a Macrocephalic Baboon
None correct - You are a Guano-gatherer

Questions taken from this Tintin site. Has some great articles.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Remembering Baba

I searched the net for the lyrics of Baba Sehgal's Thanda Thanda Paani. The search coughed up many many links for mp3 downloads, but I could discern no sites that would have the lyrics. The song is mentioned in many blogs though - testament to the many Baba Sehgal lovers out there. Yes, we are not alone! I also dare to think there will be a pattern to it - most of the Baba fans would have been born in the late 70s or the early 80s - making them between 10 to 18 years of age when Baba burst on the scene with Dil Dhadke (Pooja Bedi - If you though she was hot in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar you haven't seen her in Baba's video) and Thanda Thanda Paani. I don't think people any younger or older than 10 and 18 resp in the early 90s would have been in the right frame of mind to like / appreciate his songs. The adoloscent psyche - always wanting something new and different, something that doesn't follow the rules, something unique. They got it in Baba' songs which were Wacky but Witty, Boorish but Brilliant.

I used to impress my friends with my rendition of Thanda Thanda Paani - I knew the lyrics by heart. I remember feeling so smug about it. During the tape recorder and pre-Google days, finding out the lyrics was either very tedious and time consuming (play-strain ears-rewind-play-make assumptions) or very expensive (Archies used to sell Lyrics books! The best Love songs compilation, The best Rock songs, whatever). I didn't get much pocket money so it was no mean achievement that I could sing quite a few of Baba's songs. [I don't mean to brag but I also knew Snow and MC Shan's Informer word for word - Inforrrmer, you no say blah blah blah a licky boom boom down!].

This is what I remember of the Thanda Thanda Paani song lyrics. I am going to search for the cassette today and hope that I find it and hope even more that it still plays. I have a feeling that I have missed out a few lines - a refresh would do no harm - in fact I think it will be refreshing!

Thanda Thanda Paani (Baba Sehgal) (1992)

Mai five star hotel pehli baar gaya Maine dekha paani se bhara swimming pool Aaya manager Bola baithiye please sir sir sir aap ki seva mai main haazir hu kuch farmaaiye boliye kya aap ko chahiye?

Thanda Thanda Paani
Thanda Thanda Paani

Mere saron mei tha dard Haan bhukar one oh one Mujhe khani thi one goli Maine bola you are very jolly manager Kuch uncha sunthe hain aap Maine maanga nahi khana tandoori Mujhe lagte ho languri Sorry sir Main naya hoon employee Mujhe naukri na bhayee Phir bhi karoonga boliye boliye Kya aap ko chahiye

Thanda Thanda Paani
Thanda Thanda Paani

Waiter bhi aaya Aur cold drink laya Mera sar chakraya Mein bola Bhaya kya laya aur chilya Call the president Staff ghabraya jab president aaya Mera man machala Dekha soni kudi laal sariwali aage khadi hai madam

Boliye aap ne kyon bulwaya mujhe Kya problem hai sir Kuch nahi kuch nahi Yeh to chalta rehta hai bus yun hi Nahi nahi sir Hum hotel ki taraf se aapse maafi maangte hain Confession bhi karte hain Kya aap ko chahiye

Thanda Thanda Paani
Thanda Thanda Paani

Paani maine piya aur bola shukriya Madam ne bhi kaha aate rahiyega Hamari is bhool ko bhool jaayega Tab tata maine kiya aur Wada bhi kiya Phir nikla hotel se Thinking madam madam Thinking madam madam

Dhyaan mujhe aaya ki maine poocha nahi naam Maine chi chi chi chi poocha nahi naam Arey bhool gaya main kyon Bhool gaya main kyon Maine ek ladki ka naam nahi poocha ra ra ra riba bari riba bari baa

Dubara gaya hotel seedhe madam ka president room aur chilaya Madam aapka naam kya hai Madam ne bhi dekha mere maathe ka pasina Boli naam bhi bataongi pehle kuch lenge aap

Thanda Thanda Paani
Thanda Thanda Paani

Yo man let's get out of here. Word to your mother.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

One Track Mind

I always have a tough time explaining to my wife why I like Lego Trains. I guess it's because Lego trains tantalize the standard male brain. The link doesn't seem to be valid anymore but I have a saved copy of the article.

My sons and I saw a wonderland the other day, an eye-popping place where tiny trains snaked around scale-model skyscrapers and silos, steeples and suspension bridges.

And everything was made of Lego blocks.

"This is so cool," enthused 8-year-old Jake, as his little brother Luke let out a yelp.

My wife's reaction, though, was a bit more reserved at the National Train Show, held over the weekend in Philadelphia.

"What is it about the male mind?" asked Julie -- sadly, not for the first time.

Now, in fairness, she enjoyed the show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center -- especially the 8,000-square-foot Lego landscape, made of more than 2 million plastic pieces.

I mean, who can resist the lure of Legomotives as they chug past a hobbyist's painstaking version of downtown Columbus, Ohio, or an almost-8-foot model of a Detroit high-rise?

And you have to admire the architectural daring that adorns an office building's roof with a little plastic sniper -- who's about to be netted by Spiderman.

"I didn't know you could do that with Legos," my wife allowed at one point.

But I could hear the sentiment left unsaid:

"Or why you'd want to."

And at that point, she didn't even know about the guy who spent $17,000 to create a building out of Lego blocks in a particularly hard-to-find color.

The crowd was mostly male, of course, and mesmerized by a show that marketed tiny palm trees, rubber rocks and something called Goo Gone to help clean your tracks.

Hey, you can't spell locomotive without loco.

A spokeswoman for the National Model Railroad Association, the show's nonprofit sponsor, had a theory.

"It's primarily engines," said Mary Sudasassi. "That kind of thing appeals to men -- anything that has a motor and a cool sound. And I think it has a lot to do with fathers handing it down to their sons."

As the mothers look on, bewildered.

Lego railroads have gathered steam in the past decade, said Steve Barile of Portland, Ore., president of the International Lego Train Club Organization.

"Our club numbers keep increasing worldwide," said Barile, whose group has about 340 members in 34 organizations. (My favorite club is Michiana, which was made by snapping southern Michigan onto northern Indiana.)

These guys, and a few women, spend lots of time and money on their hobby -- and they follow some strict rules.

"We don't glue or paint anything and we don't cut the pieces," said Paul Janssen, 38, of Dublin, Ohio, a Lego modeler who is an assistant professor of cardiovascular physiology at Ohio State University. "That's part of the challenge."

"Some people have money and space, so they'll store their buildings," added Janssen, whose name tag is made of multi-colored Legos. "Others just tear them down and build something else."

Oh, there's one more explanation for all this -- from my wife.

"The trains go around in circles and they spin their wheels a lot," she observed after we had been gawking for more than hour. "And they have lots of near-misses and occasional derailments -- just like you."

Wow. She finally gets it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tombe weds Rose

One of the most emailed and read articles on the BBC website.

24 February 2006 The Wedding

03 May 2007 The Funeral

04 May 2007 The Obituary

Blaaze of Glory

There's a song by Blaaze feat Kalyani called Ban the Police doing the rounds on a few music channels. The song is about the corrupt police and mentions the controversial criminal trials of recent times - Jessica Lal, Bilkis Bano, Gujarat riots etc. Is always heartening when music talks about sensitive topics, touches upon social issues. Have always believed that music is not just limited to making people tap their feet, it is a powerful medium to spread information, awareness, emotions. It is sad that in this country, music is ruled by the movies (Will limit myself to the popular music scene - ghazals, religious songs we shall not touch upon here). The evidence is in the successes of Sunita Rao, Baba Seghal, Remo Fernandes which are absolutely nothing compared to that of the Mangeshkar sisters, Kavita Krishnamurthy and Udit Narayan.

Remo is probably known more for the title song of the movie Jalwa and Humma Humma (Bombay) than any of his other efforts. His other efforts include his anti-drugs album Pack That Smack (1986 - didn't know of it either till I looked up Wiki) and also the 1992 Politicians Don't Know to Rock'n'Roll. I think I remember the cover vividly - Remo in a dhoti and topi with an electric guitar. The songs in the album were about the communal violence, politics and AIDS. Everybody wants to uuungh without the fear of AIDS went one song. The lyrics are probably funny bordering on silly but the intent is beyond reproach. Remo didn't want his songs to just sound good, he wanted them mean to something as well. By the way, he received a Padma Shri (The award is fourth in the hierarchy of civilian awards in India after Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan) for Art this year. (Lata Mangeshkar happens to be a Bharat Ratna (2002) and a Padma Bhushan (1999) awardee).

I hope Blaaze's new song gets lots of airtime on the music channels. It is a good song and I want lots of people to listen to it and like it. He also sang the rap song in the Bunty and Bubli movie and is a playback singer for the soundtrack of the new Rajnikant movie - Sivaji:The Boss. He has stated in an interview that his first foray into Bollywood was the East or West song from Judwa for which he did not get any credit. So this man is not new to the Indi-music scene.

Indipop (non-filmi music) is important because it offers an outlet for songs that don't fit in movies. It offers scope to artists to sing about life, problems, people, politics, poetry, philosophy, love without having to confirm to the plot of a movie or be bound by the confines of a movie script. Hindi movie songs are invariably about festivals, friendship, betrayal, happiness, sorrow or are meaningless. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the Kajrare and the Dhoom Machale but I probably wouldn't listen to them a year from now.

Nazia Hasan and Alisha Chinai sowed the seeds for Indipop in the 80s - IndiPakPop would be more accurate since Nazia was from Pakistan but doesn't matter since she was such a big hit here too. Music composer / producer Biddu had a large part to play in the career of these women. Nazia Hasan with Disco Diwane and Alisha with Babydoll.

Indipop bloomed in the 90s with Sharon Prabhakar, Usha Utthup, Lucky Ali (Sunoh), Baba Sehgal (Thanda Thanda Paani - masterpiece!), Shweta Shetty (Johnny Joker!), Daler Mehndi (Bolo Tara Rara - awesome), Sunita Rao, Shaan and Sagarika. These guys took Indipop higher. The introduction of cable TV and MTv helped.

But the 21st century has been so disappointing. The rules of Indipop for this century have been the 3 Rs - Raunchy video, bhangRa, Remix. An Indipop song had to be one or even better all of the three. In fact it's now more about the videos than the songs. In recent times, Indipop has been making famous the people in the music videos and not the person behind the voice - Deepal Shaw, Rakhi Sawant, Meghna Naidu, Mumait Khan, Shefali Zariwala, Negar Khan. I am ashamed to say that I think that I can probably name more models in music videos than the Indipop groups - Euphoria, Bombay Vikings, Bally Sagoo, Indian Ocean, ... (need help here!)

What I am trying to say is that Indipop sees to have stagnated and is going backwards. It's hard to put up a brave front or be optimistic when the success formula seems to be as simple as getting pretty women to dance to just about any song in a pub, in a tub, in the jungle, in the office, at home, in a car wash, in a disco, on a tree and just about wherever possible. Occasionally artists like Blaaze with his Ban the Police, A R Rehman with Pray for me brother offer some hope that Indipop will be revived but its a cruel and one sided battle that these guys are fighting.

I am not a betting man and even if i were one I wouldn't wager that the revival is going to happen any time soon.