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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cutting the Chai Calendar 2008

The 2007 Cutting the Chai calendar has been downloaded 266 times. Given the fact that it was a late release (May 2007), the numbers were encouraging enough for me to work on the 2008 calendar and release it well in advance of the new year.

You can download printable versions of the calendar which lists major Indian festivals and holidays from the links given towards the end of this post.

This is a one page A4-sized calendar (landscape), without much visual appeal. That might be compensated if I release an eye-candy version later (if things go as planned). Meanwhile, for people (like me) who have lost track of time and are always short of dates (of all kinds), this basic tabular array should suffice (for dates of one kind).

2008 Calendar with Indian Festivals and Holidays (Size A4)

Download PDF [53 KB]
Download Image [JPEG 118 KB]

Government of India's list of official holidays for 2008 can be downloaded from the links below:

List of 2008 gazetted holidays [JPEG 20 KB]
List of 2008 restricted holidays [JPEG 48 KB]

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

KS Roleplay Ads

First Pooja Bedi disarrayed a chessboard and had a steamy shower with Marc Robinson, then Miss Mauritius 1993 Viveka Babajee and Inder Sudan let their passions wild beneath a waterfall. Then came the double meaning ads - "So... what are you thinking of?" - and the current flavour of Kamasutra Condom advertising is roleplay.

Here's a roundup of theme "Who do you want to be tonight?"

Who do you want to be tonight?
Kamasutra Condoms

Who do you want to be tonight?
Kamasutra Condoms

The dancer performed well.
The instructor gave her several zeroes as a reward.
Kamasutra dotted condoms.
Who do you want to be tonight?

The art critic praised the artist for his use of lines.
He promised her many more private viewings
Kamasutra ribbed condoms.
Who do you want to be tonight?

The geography professor gave private tution on different contours.
The biology teacher couldn't stop thanking him
Kamasutra contoured condoms.
Who do you want to be tonight?

The gardener surprised the landlady with an off-season flavour.
He was suitably rewarded
Kamasutra Surprise. Assorted flavoured condoms
Who do you want to be tonight?

The doctor came late.
The nurse was glad
Kamasutra Longlast. Climax control dotted condoms
Who do you want to be tonight?

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Kamasutra Condoms - Detective TVC

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Download video [00:00:41 FLV 1 MB]

Kamasutra Condoms - Lifeguard TVC

(But that can be at any time of the day. Don't let the tonight clause keep you waiting)

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Shock Value Advertising

Internationally, United Colors of Benetton has become synonymous with shock advertising. Indian advertising may be provocative at times, but it is rarely shocking (the Centre Shock ads don't count). But then it is not an altogether unknown genre here.

Here are some ads that might be shocking (or offending) to some readers at the first read, but then read the complete message. No images or pictorial depiction, just plain words.

[Some readers might find the content offensive. Read further at your own discretion]

Gone to bed with men, women and children.
House of used books
#84/6, Opp. Amoeba, Church Street, Bangalore - 1.
Visit us at
Agency: Mudra Communication

Slept with three, wanting more
House of used books...
Agency: Mudra Communication

Dumped by her. Abused by him.
House of used books...
Agency: Mudra Communication

Do not demand d**ry, you cocksucker
Dowry, it's the dirtiest word [In fine print]
The Sisterhood Collective
Agency: Brand Curry

Say no to d**ry, you fucking prick
Dowry, it's the dirtiest word [In fine print]
The Sisterhood Collective
Agency: Brand Curry

Even bad copy deserves to look good
Agency: Grey Worldwide

Even bad copy deserves to look good
Agency: Grey Worldwide India

Even bad copy deserves to look good
Agency: Grey Worldwide India

Related: How Many Babies Did You Kill Today?

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The First Ever Dot Com (Now that's a loooooong domain name) has put up a list of the first ever dot coms to be registered.

...the first .com which was registered on March 15 1985 and it was which still happens to be up and running, although not much to look at.
[Via Slashdot]

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Introducing ChaiTV

There are many who visit this blog only for the videos and are not interested in the letters I attempt to conjure up as words. To make their experience more worth the while and also to provide a value addition for other readers of this blog who are also interested in the other assortments here, let me introduce ChaiTV (Feels like I'm announcing the launch of my own television channel but this is as close as I can get, yet). ChaiTV showcases the latest videos that are put up on Cutting the Chai, all at one place. The actual credit goes to the good guys at, I have just incorporated it here.

To visit ChaiTV you just need to click here (and a pop-up window should open unless it is blocked by your browser) or the icon on the left panel. In the unlikely likelihood that you want to include ChaiTV on your blog you can copy/paste the HTML below into your html.

For a pop-up window (like the example above):

For an embedded on-site player (like the one below):


Click here for the complete post...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Maggi Noodles: The Two-Minute Wonder

"Mummy bhook laagi (Mummy I'm hungry)," cries the kid. "Bus do minute (Just two minutes)," assures the loving mom. My mother never preferred Maggi, she would rather prepare some chow-chow (not to be confused with the Chinese breed of dog or the American condiment), that is what we referred to as in Shillong what the rest of India calls chow mein.

But beyond home, this five-lettered instant noodle brand has become a trustworthy companion, for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and occasionally in-between). Don't feel like cooking and end of the month budgetary constraints disallow eating out, it is always Maggi to the rescue. Every month I consume dozens of packets of this two-minutes wonder and so do millions of others like me.

There have been at different points of time, different competitors who attempted to replace Maggi from my breakfast/lunch/dinner bowl, but have, in the long run, failed to do so. Worthy competitors were Top Ramen and Wai Wai. They are good for the occasional change in taste but it is Maggi that remains staple. And I've devised some alternative recipes to add some variety to my platter.

Though Maggi advertising (see ad at the end of this post) tends to target kids, a survey would reveal that a considerable slice of Maggi noodles' consumers are single men and women. The pricing and the variety in tastes are the added advantages. Though I personally stick to the two traditional flavours - chicken and masala - and prefer to purchase my monthly quota in bulk. Only that my neighbourhood grocery store doesn't store anything more than a pack of eight.

Even the dhaba near my office prepares delicious Maggi, thereby providing me with more options for lunch - parathas or Maggi and nowadays it is more Maggi than parathas. Though technically, the entire procedure of preparing a steaming hot bowl of Maggi noodles takes some multiples of that promised two minutes. Not that I'm complaining. But people who come visiting me and stay for a week or more, swear themselves off Maggi - at least for some time.

The only thing that I miss about the Maggi from my growing-up days is that they no longer give gifts in exchange of empty Maggi packs, else I would have had quite a collection by now. And I have another request for the guys at Nestle, please sell the chicken Maggi tastemaker loose, ie without having to purchase the noodle with it. It does make for one relishing lick.

Maggi TVC:

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

'Blogs, Like Memories, Don't Die'

Occasionally, when I'm alone (a rarity in this e-era) a thought comes to me. But I was unable to elucidate it in sentences. Now, Atul in one of his sixteen blogs, coincidentally, expresses those feelings in a manner (as usual) that I wouldn't have managed to.

...blogs, like memories, don't die. Or something to that effect. And I believe so. People delete blogs, they stop writing at their blogs, yet blogs themselves don't die. They may be pushed back in the darkest deepest recesses of an inaccessible server somewhere, but they don’t die. At worst, they don't grow - they stagnate for want of nutrition.

Blogs don't die. Bloggers do. They die two kinds of death, one of which is certain.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Revenge of the Zapped Ads

It seems that some of the effort that I've put in this blog might just become redundant. There's a new website in town called that acts as an online storehouse for all those TVCs.

This is from their brochure: is a 24/7 online video directory for brands. Targeted at the global Indian, may be the answer to zapped out television commercials.

The '24/7' adjective before 'online video directory,' may seem superfluous. The web is 24/7 (unless you have subscribed to the ISP I have). But then they are attempting to place themselves as complementary to TV. And against the seconds of airtime on TV, the '24/7' tag might have some appeal.

The site is in all in flash that takes a while to load and refresh. The interface is also not very user friendly. I tried opening the site in IE7 (Firefox is my default) and it just doesn't seem to work there.

Though this site is all about videos, text is also necessary for a more wholesome user experience. And using logos to identify the ads also don't help as different ads from the same brand have the same logo and I can't know which is which unless I play the video.

Nevertheless, they have a sizeable number of ads categorised under 24 different heads. But they still have a long way to go. Good idea though - No interruptive soaps, only commercials.

And here is their own ad

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Outlook Editor Expelled for Making a Pass at a Girl

This is a kind of headline that is sure to grab a few eyeballs. Had I added a word scoop/exclusive before that, the effect might have been even more sensational (quite like our television news channels).

Excuse the tabloidish headline but that is not entirely untrue. Only that Vinod Mehta was not the editor of Outlook (and was in primary school) when whatever mentioned in the headline happened. A confession in his own words:

I was expelled from Loreto Convent for making a pass at a girl! She wanted to borrow my rubber (that's what we called it then), I asked her to be my girlfriend.

We too called erasers rubbers, because they were made of that stuff and at that age we weren't aware of the other rubbery stuff around. I too was once, actually twice, suspended from school. Could've been expelled too.

The first was when I was in the eighth standard and being the class monitor led a rebellion against a teacher who had made some baseless allegations against a classmate and our class teacher (details in some future post) and the second time on charges of aiding someone bring a fake guardian to meet the principal. That I was a house vice-captain made matters a little worse as I was supposed to be an example for other students.

Though not much damage was done on both occasions, it definitely gave me some tales to narrate to my grandchildren and write some posts on this blog.

Click here for the complete post...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Regenerate Disappeared Firefox Extensions / Add-ons

This morning as I logged onto my work PC, I found that all the extensions/add-ons that I had installed had disappeared. Even the add-ons manager was not responding, though it showed the installed extensions but the controls didn't work and the window just remained stuck there.

I first suspected the IT support guys to be behind this, they often come up with wierd ideas to restrict a hassle-free browsing environment. But then I doubted their abilities.

A little googling and the problem was solved. The reason was a recent update. And the fix is not that difficult.

First look for your Firefox profiles folder. As this folder could be hidden. To show hidden folders, open Windows Explorer and choose Organize -> Folder and Search Options -> Folder Options -> View (tab) -> Show hidden files and folders.

Delete three files from your profiles folder.


Make sure Firefox is not running when deleting these files. Firefox will regenerate these files on restart.

[All the gyan is from here]

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

That '80s Show

Children had trouble understanding what the hell Nirodh was…why all the rain and the singing and the pink umbrella. Grown up had trouble understanding it too, the population kept growing in spite of all the talk and wall painting by the Family welfare department…Jacha Bacha Bachoo ka Baap sab khush all happy under the one big palm. That again is another story.

Vinayak at At the Edge has put together quite a comprehensive collage of life in the 1980s (both in text and images). We oldies should read it for the n-effect and the bacchas to know of the world as it existed before internet and satellite television.

Click here for the complete post...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Celebrating Cacophony

There is art.
There is Noise.

But only we have perfected the art of noise.

Some of the kost original works of art can be found on cracker boxes. There is as much bang outside the box as there is within. From pictures of gods and celebrities to politicians and animals, they all find their pride of place on a cracker box. Whether it is Diwali, Dussehra, or winning a One-Day International, we celebrate all with the most beautiful sounds.

The Times of India
Celebration Times. Forever.

Best wishes for Diwali and Kali Puja.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mitra Speaks for His Friends

I didn't yet post a post on the recent Tehelka sting (Still am working on it and it'll be up soon). Though it wasn't an expose, it wasn't also a story to be disposed off. Everyone on both sides of the debate cannot refuse to agree with the facts (maybe a tad exaggerated). But there are many who try to see an hidden agenda in the whatever anyone else does. I was reading Chandan Mitra's piece in Outlook on the Tehelka sting and felt that the the editor of The Pioneer was just reflecting the opinions of those stung.

Mitra calls it a 'failed sting.' Failed because that the contents revealed as a result of that are no longer shocking and Narendra Modi was not directly implicated. But the findings, irrespective of the desired 'results,' needed to be released in the public arena.

He also questions the timing. My observation is that whatever time the sting might have been aired, detractors would always look for one or the other timing stick to beat their argument drum with. It is the easiest thing to do.

'Politically motivated' - it might have been (you never know) but if it is the truth (or even close to it), the movation is of secondary importance. And what motivates The Pioneer and the man behind the newspaper is no secret.

I don't feel like providing any more counter arguments to that piece as to an intelligent reader the truths would be quite obvious. But what surprises me is the quality of the column, something that I didn't expect from someone of Chandan Mitra's stature and calibre. Hope he didn't get it ghostwritten and forgot to edit the draft.

Ideologies and beliefs stand would exist and different people have different views, but how these views are expressed is very important. It is necessary to engross the reader and potentially raise doubts in the minds of an otherwise non-believing reader. The piece, unfortunately only expouses ideology, nothing more.

I'm not the only one who doesn't totally approve of Mitra's arguments. Mahesh Peri the publisher of Outlook writes,

The response that the sting has evoked from some among us is both shameful and dangerous. And when it comes from leaders - the so-called intellectuals and especially editors who are supposed to mould public opinion - it is despicable. I have read Chandan Mitra and I am constrained to say that I am happy not to have ever known or met him. I think I am freer than him because I can see, hear and process everything that is said on camera not through the prism of my own magazine, organisation or people.

And the fall of sting operations in India goes much before the Delhi schoolteacher episode. Shakti Kapoor. Remember?

On a different note, but still sticking to Outlook. A few lines from Delhi Diary by Bhaichand Patel:
I had stopped being a Marxist when I became financially comfortable.

Instead of telling a story straight, he (Vidhu Vinod Chopra) likes to show off the skills he learnt at film school.
Quite true.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bollywood's House of Horrors

A nice collection of hand-painted kitschy posters of Hindi horror flicks (I vaguely remember watching a few of these) can be found here. These are scary (read amusing). A few samples:

I can't read Urdu. Can someone help with this? Tasneem says that it reads, Loorud Bala, but couldn't delve further into the meaning except for the Bala part which translates to a beautiful woman and/or trouble.
Vinayak feels it might mean 'Bloody Evil Spirit' and points out that the film is possibly in Pashto.

The above is a perfect specimen of the bhoot in Indian cinema. The other is the kind draped in a white saree, but may transmogrify into the specimen above

Anmol Moti (Priceless Pearl)

Jangal Mein Mangal - The word mangal literally translates into auspicious. Therefore it should translate to 'Auspiciousness in the Jungle,' but it doesn't. The name has some other inference and the phrase has found its place into popular vocabulary.

Via Peex Blog

More Indian horror film posters (including Hindi dubbed versions of South Indian films) are listed here.

In case you're interested in some C-grade A-rated tiltilation, here is another sizeable collection of posters

Related post: Painted Dreams

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Seduced by Chocolate

Since it has been quite some time since I filed a post under Sexy Indian Ads and that Kareena is presently keeping the grapevine abuzz, I thought that it might just be timely to post a sexy Kareena ad.

Lux 75 Years of Stardom
Indulge your skin with New Lux Chocolate Seduction Soap.
Rich with real cocoa cream and strawberry vitamins.
It nourishes your skin and leaves it looking deliciously gorgeous.
Chocolate Seduction is a special offering from Lux,
a part of our Celebration Range to mark 75 years of stardom.

Lux Chocolate Seduction

And many like me agree that she looked the best in Refugee (I liked her in Asoka too) and I hated whatever she was in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, I also hated the movie. I still remember the K3G for two things, as both the occupants of the seats besides me in the theatre (a male classmate and a friend's sister) were sobbing through parts of the movie and that about eight of us crammed into an autorickshaw to return home after the show (I'm just trying to keep my mind occupied elsewhere, chocolate tempts me).

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Protective Cover

Nrityanjali Academy in collaboration with the India HIV/AIDS Alliance has produced a number of public service announcements in the form of music videos. The songs are in Telugu but with English subtitles. The tunes are catchy and the execution though simple seems effective. The following is one of the four videos produced by them. It focuses on the condom, its types and uses and also makes an attempt to break some myths surrounding the use of rubber protection.

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A higher resolution video is available here.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Delhi Ran, I Ran

My boss and the guys at HR coaxed me into participating in the seven kilometre fun-run part of the Delhi Half Marathon. The last time I ran amidst a mass of people was back in school, though I have walked for considerable distances, running is something that I didn't pursue much.

A few friends had got together and planned for a daily morning jog back in college, but the daily chases by mongrels on the sloping roads of Shillong was deterrent enough to keep us wrapped in quilts till the sun was high enough (That we were lazy was inconsequential before the canine excuse).

Prior to this mini-marathon, I had trained myself for a few days. Basically it meant two rounds on a flyover near my house. And the first day it ached and ached for days. Today to the calves are a little sore. But it was a fun run. And it is fun to run, especially when you have characters out of mythology for company [see pic above right].

There was freshly out of the ODI-squad ex-captain Rahul Dravid to cheer me and thousands of others on [see pic left]. Speaking of marathons, I would recommend the exploits of two marathon runners that I had written about before. Meanwhile, I should rest my aching calves and feet.

It is a little funny that the official Delhi Half Marathon website, at 5:40 PM on October 28 says that there are still over nine hours left to the event. I didn't know of a another marathon happening tonight. Evidence below:

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Secret Behind Kishoreda's Glossy Black Hair

Ask any random Hindi film music buff who his/her favourite playback singer is, and there is a strong possibility that most of the time you'll hear one name over and over again like a yodel - Kishore Kumar (born Abhash Kumar Ganguly). There might have been many who were more gifted, but Kishoreda ruled the hearts (and still does). I like millions of others have a huge collection of Kishore songs, songs for every mood. And adding to my Kishore collection is this reader's contribution to Vintage Indian Ads:

This 1955 Brylcreem ad featuring the inimitable Kishore Kumar has been sent by Kaustubh Pingle. It appeared in the pages of Filmfare. "This was the time when Kishore Kumar was gaining popularity and eventually becoming the most-wanted actor of the decade, having 12 silver jubilee and three golden jubilees - one of his movies running for continuously 30 months!" says Kaustubh.

It seems that my internetwallah read the last post. I'm now reconnected to the online world from the comfort of my home.

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In Mood for Murder

It's been two weeks (14 days) that I'm without an internet connection at home. Feel like throttling my internetwallah. Ideally should've opted for a different provider by now, but am awaiting my pound of flesh as mine is a pre-paid connection and I had paid in advance for the month. Planning to get a month's free internet as compensation for my woes.

Though it is not entirely their fault, they by default become the target of my ire. I tried to keep my cool for the first 10 days, but now am fast losing it. Hope that he restores it by tonight else the dreaded Delhi rage virus might just take over.

With increasing competition in the internet market, many players are trying hard to get a foothold in my locality, which has a sizeable amount of students and young professionals. As it happened during the early days of the cable TV boom, competitors resorted to sabotage to draw their rivals' customers. The internetwallah is suggesting that I go for a wireless connection, so that his competitors' blades cannot woo me away from him. But that entails additional cost at my end. Though it is not a big sum of money, I would first like my terrestrial network to be restored before I think of linking via the airwaves.

It is because of this that the blog is looking static. My laziness has no role to play here.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Post from the Past: Advent of Autumn

Goddess Durga

It's that time of the year when mother Durga embarks on her annual vacation, family and pets in tow. The hills in autumn seem greener; the streams sparkle a little more. A thousand miles away from home, in a land somewhat alien I can't smell festivity in the air. The conch shells and the drumbeats reverberate in the nostalgic realm. I yearn for the doe-eyed beauties uneasy in their crisp sarees. My ears search for the strains of songs in the tongue I called my own.
The baritone of Birendra Krishna Bhadra reverberating the autumn dawn - Ya devi sarvabhuteshu - courtesy All India Radio (AIR) signals the arrival of autumn. The greens have already started browning, the Sharad Utsav is about to begin. Vishwakarma Puja, a few days ago, opened the doors of joyous festivity. This dusk when the sun shall set, there will be no moon to take its place. Tomorrow, there'll be one - a new one, the first of ten days of festivity and when the moon will become full, the East of India will welcome the goddess of wealth - Lakshmi - into their homes, others will wait till the following Amavasya, when Diwali commemorates the triumphal return of Lord Rama to Ayodha. East Indians (read Bengalis), revering the other avatar of Krishna avatar of Vishnu more, revert their religious focus back to Shakti - this time in the form of Kali... and the sequence continues.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Indian Air Force Turns 75

Yesterday - October 8, 2007 - marked the 75th anniversary of the Indian Air Force.

The Indian Air Force was officially established on 8 October 1932.Its first ac flight came into being on 01 Apr 1933. It possessed a strength of six RAF-trained officers and 19 Havai Sepoys (literally, air soldiers). The aircraft inventory comprised of four Westland Wapiti IIA army co-operation biplanes at Drigh Road as the "A" Flight nucleus of the planned No.1 (Army Co-operation) Squadron.

I had found this nice video on the IAF somewhere online a long time ago, thought of posting it yesterday but was preoccupied. Here it is:

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Black Magic Advertising

Translating the below word by word is beyond my ability; if someone believes that he/she can do it, please do.

A couple of these were thrown inside the autorickshaw I was returning from work in. These visiting card-sized advertisements are quite popular with the practitioners of the 'supernatural' arts of black magic and the like. Such ads are also frequently found pasted on the panes of Delhi's city buses.

This Guru Saheb Ji Bangali (the Bangali suffix is common with the black magic men given Bengal's association with such 'arts') promises results within two hours and this would be backed by a 'guarantee card.' He also declares himself the uncrowned king of black magic.

All kinds of woes have their possible cures with him and announces his 'specialist status' in a few of the fields. Lovelorn couples are especially invited for consultation. Though the consultation fees are Rs 151, there is a Rs 100 discount on the presentation of the card. And visitors have to bring along two incense sticks.

Even the best of professionals in the non-magical fields cannot exude such confidence.

Cigarette packets in India are yet to get the skull and bones symbol, but the warning on this card - 'Black magic may result in death' - is accompanied by one.

The believers in black magic and witchcraft are many and include many from the upwardly mobile educated class. If only we had more faith in our abilities than such mumbo-jumbo.

[The contact details have been blurred on purpose]

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Khuda Kay Liye - Welcome Face of Pakistani Cinema

For someone like me whose exposure to Pakistani films was limited to the sub-standard fare aired on PTV, complete with the stereotyped villainous Hindu lala, a film like Khuda Kay Liye (In the Name of God - not an apt translation) was a pleasant surprise. Many of us would have heard about the film because one of India's finest actors, Naseeruddin Shah, played a brief but important role in the film. But beyond that it might not have interested many Indian movie freaks. But it should.

I too would not have watched the film, it had slipped off my mind, but a friend working for one of the numerous news channels wanted to do a story on this and sought my help in getting a copy of the movie, which I did. I later converted the film into a mobile friendly format and watched it during the 100-kilometre ride from Guwahati airport to Shillong. And even on the tiny 2" screen it was worth it.

The film to me was a dialogue between the liberal and extremist versions of Islam and for people with a limited understanding of the religion (that's a big number) it opens our eyes to many different facets. It portrays the dilemma of a Muslim in today's world. Here is a synopsis of the film from the website:

The film is about the difficult situation in which Pakistanis in particular and the Muslims in general are caught up since 9/11. These is a war going on between the fundamentalists and the liberal Muslims. This situation is creating a drift not only between the western world and the Muslims but also within the Muslim community. The educated and modern Muslims are in a difficult situation because of their approach towards life and their western attire. They are criticised and harassed by the fundamentalists and on the other hand the western world sees them as potential suspects of terrorism just because of their Muslim names.

This paradox is resulting in great suffering for the forward looking Muslim. This is the name of the film 'Khuda Kay Liye,' which in English means In the Name of God.'

The interesting thing about the film is how it connects the happenings in three continents. Unlike the usual Indian and Pakistani films based on romantic sagas, dances and songs, this film is based on some very serious issues. Raising a lot of controversial questions engaging the Muslim minds these days. It helps the Muslim youth find a direction... the right direction, which we are all looking towards.
Compared to the Pakistani films that I had watched before this, Khuda Kay Liye, is definitely miles ahead in all aspects, there's no comparison. The script is lucid and kept me engrossed throughout. The music is soothing. And performances are commendable. Though Naseer steals the thunder with his cameo.

The best part is that that Shoaib Mansoor, in his big screen debut as a director kept a very balanced approach. Though the point-of-view of the film is liberal, it does not outrightly rubbish the fundamentalists' approach. Even the logic behind the extremist interpretation of Islam is brought to the fore and a bulk of the counter arguments happen in the courtroom via Maulana Wali played by Naseer. The director makes an effort at not going overboard either with the story or with emotions, and succeeds.

Obviously the film met with a lot of protests and it a brave and commendable effort. It deals with a lot of issues which modern day Muslims face in an ever shrinking world and many do not agree with Mansoor's opinions as evident from the raging debates on online forums. But for an Indian the film makes for a must watch because today all that we seem to know about our neighbouring country revolves around one individual – General Pervez Musharraf.

I'm looking forward to the India release of the movie. Hope that happens soon, at least on DVD. In case it doesn't, just search for Khuda Kay Liye on Stage6, someone has uploaded the complete film in five parts. (you'll need to install DivX Web Player).

Here's a special Cutting the Chai edit of the trailer:

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Related post: Watch Movies on Your Mobile

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Moods Please!

The old 'Moods please' ad definitely did change the way in which Indian men asked their chemist for condoms. Then the focus shifted on the woman, actually it is still the man but via the woman, with the 'My Man!' campaign.

Here's the 'Yeh kya huan, kaise huan...' commercial:

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Full2Faltu aptly describes the ad as "erotic, sexy, to the point and even though being a condom ad surprisingly not at all vulgar. No sex, no skin show but just pure teasing between partners."

Related post: What's Wrong with This Ad?

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Posting Gandhi

A couple of vintage postcards in honour of Mahatma Gandhi:

[Gandhiji's love for children (1944)]

[Bapu (Gandhiji) and Ba (Kasturba Gandhi) - 1942]

And a stamp for Shastriji:

Lal Bahadur Srivastava (October 2, 1904 - January 11, 1966)

Related posts:
* The Consequences of Being a Gandhi
* The Mahatma and Me
* Gandhi Died 30/1/1948

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Crazy for Cricket

Last night's India-Australia ODI at Bangalore was washed out, but what cannot be easily washed away is India's zeal for the game of cricket. Defeats may lower the spirits, but another high is just a victory away. Now again it is at a peak following the Twenty20 win. Here's a SET Max - the cricket and movies channel - ad featuring Kapil Dev and quite an opponent of a bowler for a kid. This also showcases the craze that cricket is in India.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Tehelka reincarnated: A review

It was the dawn of the new millennium, and a website added another word (though presently much maligned) to the Indian public's vocabulary, sting operation. Then came (though not entirely unexpected) the witch hunt. Tehelka managed to put the pieces back together and came up with a tabloid-sized weekly. Then there was "a rumour doing the rounds that the magazine is dying." Whether it was because of the truth behind the rumour or the limitations of the existing format, Tehelka has attempted yet another phoenix act, this time as a magazine.

I was going somewhere in an autorickshaw, when I noticed a little girl at a traffic light trying to sell a magazine with the Tehelka masthead, but the size looked different. Before I could get a closer look, the lights turned green. Then came a mail from Shivam announcing the transition. I picked up a copy in Shillong (where I had gone for a little break) and on my return to Delhi asked my newspaper vendor to deliver a copy on my doorstep every week. Though for a official subscription I would have paid only Rs 200 a year, then the copies would've arrived late - a compromise I'm not willing to make. Even though it might be the end of the next week that I pick up the copy to read.

One thing is for sure with the new Tehelka - it is by far the best designed of all of the mainstream weekly newsmagazines. The blue-grey theme looks sophisticated. Liberties have been taken regarding the layout and there's considerable white space play like I have seen in some of the newspaper supplements published from London (I read them at the British Library in Bhopal). Even Frontline made an attempt towards this direction (but the magazine somehow fails to sustain my interest).

And page one is not the usual contents and the printline, but 'In Cold Blood' - excerpts from an in-the-face interview. I first thought that some pages were missing.

Flip through a few pages and there are some innovations. One is 'Ask?' and the experts will answer. There have been similar initiatives in the newspapers, but I didn't notice one in a newsmagazine. Though there are the mandatory (and sleazy) agony aunt/uncle columns in the other magazines.

The next is what I liked the best - 'Whatever Happened To...' - which traces the present status of stories which had once hogged the headlines. Stories like the Purulia Arms Drop, Kashmir Sex Scandal, Imrana... a good attempt at recalling important happenings which a so easy to forget where everything is breaking news.

Other pages do not reveal much of a departure from the Tehelka that I've known since the last three-and-a-half years. The necessary eye-candy corner is there towards the end (one of the reasons why I read magazines from rear-to-front).

Though I had expected a revival in the new format, I was a little disappointed (but just). Had expected a more vibrant Tehelka. But the chilli has given way to the crow. Even the printing is a bit gloomy like Ram Gopal Varma's frames.

The good thing is that the new size makes it handier to read and the price at Rs 10 a copy is far lesser than the other weeklies of the genre. Though I wouldn't like Tehelka to come up with a stupid sex survey issue, I want it to be able to turn a casual reader to a concerned reader, who wouldn't just flip through stories which deserve to be read.

The space given to the news of the week is limited to just a page. Atleast two pages would do a little justice to someone who has been away for the madness of 'breaking news' or someone who wants to know which amongst the hundreds of 'breaking stories' are actually worth the airtime (And the ones which remained unbroken). Excuse my peevishness towards today's television news, I just cannot help it.

Tehelka has also launched a Hindi website - - which promises to raise the bar of Hindi journalism. Hope it does and would some at least promise to do the same to our 24-hours news channels.

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Monday, September 24, 2007


Watta match! It did live up to the tag of an Indo-Pak encounter. And India winning it made it even better. It was a thriller with all the twists and turns. And at last when the ball went sky high, millions of throats would've developed lumps on both sides of the LOC and only on one side were there shouts of exhilaration that followed. It was a match which will take this quickie form of cricket ahead.

Two teams bereft of some of the big names, ostensibly rested from a more youthful version of the game. Two teams who couldn't even make it beyond the first round of the 50-overs version of the World Cup went on to battle for the first ever Twenty20 World Cup. But then those teams were a little different from the 22 at the Wanderers.

The BCCI had initially phoo-phooed the idea of Twenty20 only to reluctantly embrace it. The launch of the Indian Cricket League opened the eyes of the custodians of the game of cricket in India to launch their own version of a domestic T20 league. Now with the success of the Indian team at the World Cup the BCCI is attempting to wipe off the egg on its face (it is by now quite used to it) with currency notes worth approximately rupees nine crore (that's what Ravi Shastri announced as reward for Team India and Yuvraj Singh on behalf of the BCCI).

Cricket it is said is a game of uncertainties and even an inept administration cannot always come in the way of a spirited team. Though there will be many clamouring to take the credit, it should always go to where it is due - the team.

And India also keeps it all win record against the arch rivals in both forms of World Cup cricket.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

It Doesn't Get Bigger than This

India versus Pakistan. World Cup Finals. What more can you ask for? Well, India to win in that encounter.

Prior to the ongoing Twenty20 World Cup at South Africa, I (and also millions of others like me) hadn't watched a single T20 matche. And when they did, I would say they were hooked. The longer versions of the game might have more grace, but this format of the sport isn't about gracefulness, it's just full throttle ahead. And everyone seems to enjoying the exhilarating pace.

Two teams who ingloriously exited in the very first round of the ODI World Cup early this year meeting in the finals of the World Championship of the new format of the game is good for the game. Because it is the Subcontinent which helps sustain interest in the game in all its formats and it is here where the money flows from. And the manner Yuvraj Singh is hitting the ball, the revenues have the potential of going higher than his sixers.

It was the success of the first World Cup (the Prudential Cup) in 1975 which brought One-Day cricket into the limelight and following South Africa T20 is here to stay. Just hope that in the future they don't narrow it down to the five-overs-a-side matches that we played in our locality.

And it feels good to see the Aussies humbled. This also is good for the game.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Indian Idol 3 - A City Turns Loony

The assembly elections in the state are quite a few months away, but from the look of the narrow and winding roads of Shillong it seems that canvassing is on in full swing. And all the parties are rooting for the same candidate.

On entering the city a huge hoarding sponsored by the state Youth Congress Chief asks you to vote. Further down into the city, the BJP has also put up banners appealing you to vote for the very same contestant - Amit Paul.

Many television viewers are by now quite familiar with the name. Amit Paul is the Shillong lad who has made it to the final two in one of the numerous TV musical talent shows - called Indian Idol. And for the hill state of Meghalaya and its sleepy cosmopolitan capital Shillong it seems to be the best thing to happen since January 21, 1972 - when the state of Meghalaya was carved out of Assam.

For a city with its soul soaked in music the zeal expressed in support of a local lad coming to the verge of getting a ticket to the 'big league' might not seem surprising. But the feverish excitement over a TV show is something that someone like me finds tough to comprehend.

People from other cities from where boys and girls have been contenders for the big promises of the talent shows might have been witness to similar phenomenon. I also had, last year, when Debojit Saha from south Assam had gone to the SaReGaMaPa contest on Zee TV (he was the eventual winner but not necessarily not the most talented of the lot) and I happened to be on a visit to that part of the country.

Amit Paul is already an icon in Shillong. Almost everyone is talking about him all the time. From the barber to the taxi driver, the point of discussion is Amit. Giant screens have been put up all over the city so that people can watch 'their boy' in action. MLAs and MDCs (Member of District Council) are falling over one another to sponsor free PCOs from where the public can punch in their votes for Amit.

Rallies in support of Amit are a daily affair and the crowd at the one when Amit came visiting home is said to be the largest that the city had ever witnessed. The last time Shillong saw people turning out on the roads voluntarily in huge numbers was when the body of Kargil martyr Captain K Clifford Nongrum was brought home.

Amit t-shirts line shop windows and his posters are best sellers (though some organisations have urged them to be distributed for free). Wherever you look in the city you cannot possibly miss one face with a slight stubble looking at you from all directions.

The swanky touch-screen mobile phones are no longer the latest show-off here, it is the number of votes that one has cast for Amit. An elderly gentleman who occupied the seat next to me in a local taxi (taxis in Shillong usually ply on a sharing basis) said that he voted 500 times. Others have reportedly sent over a thousand votes for their home-bred contestant. And the voting continues throughout the night.

To have a first-hand look I walked through the semi-deserted streets to one of the free PCOs at around midnight to discover a huge crowd there. People of all ages, pre-pubescent girls and elderly grandmothers all queuing up in a pleasant September night to vote for Amit. Occasionally some slogan shouting in support of Amit breaks the silence of the night.

For a city which is used to shutters downing a couple of hours after dusk (the sun sets early in the east) these energetic midnight ventures by the young and the old is indeed welcome.

What else is also welcome is that in a communally divided and sensitive society like Shillong's the success of Amit Paul has brought about an unprecedented sense of togetherness.

Amit Paul is Bengali, his family owns a renowned clothing outlet in the centre of the city - Shankar Brastalaya - and at the forefront of the campaign in support of Amit are the Khasis (both communities - Khasis and Bengalis - over the last few decades haven't shared the best of relations). Now both, along with the numerous other communities who inhabit Shillong are making a collective effort towards realising the recently realised dream of a city-bred Indian Idol.

But then there is also a dark side to this tale. Amit's competitor for the title of Indian Idol is Prashant Tamang, hailing from Darjeeling, and sceptics believe that Shillong's Nepali community (a sizeable one) is voting for Prashant, while according to them the loyalties of of all the people of Shillong should be with the city and not the tongue one speaks in.

In case Prashant betters Amit in the vote count there are apprehensions of disturbances in Shillong, which has fortunately been quite peaceful (communally) for the last few years.

To add to all the confusion are rumors of free SMS services being provided by mobile operators leading to many people sending as many SMSes as possible. Apart from the freebie seekers there are many deep pockets abound distributing free pre-paid cards to anyone willing to punch in the SMSes in Amit's favour.

Amidst all the brouhaha it is obvious that there would be a few who can see though this maniacal euphoria (thankfully there are). These few realise that the producers of the show are merely triggering the upheaval of regional emotions and filling their (and the mobile operators') coffers and are also aware of the real value of such talent hunts at a time where every channel boasts of one, if not more such shows. They also try to recall the previous winners of such shows and the oblivion where most of them have disappeared into and also the process of multiple public voting which turns a so-called democratic exercise into a farce.

A local columnist Patricia Mukhim is believed to have ignited the fire for Amit through her columns in the local newspapers. Then socio-cultural organisations took over and even the government couldn't resist from staying behind. The Meghalaya government has declared Amit Paul the 'Brand Ambassador of the State of Meghalaya for Peace, Communal Harmony and Excellence' (see the adjacent image of a copy of the letter from the Chief Secretary) and even the Governor signed his fan book.

With many of Shillong's lasses already publicly expressing the desire to marry him, Amit might just face another problem of plenty. A Sikkim-based businessman has announced a Rs One crore funding for voting in favour of Prashant. There are also rumors of the government employees of Sikkim contributing a day's salary to the kitty for Prashant.

May the best man win, but they seldom do in the farce that these talent hunts are.

Special addition: [September 19, 2007] In fear of excommunication by fellow Shillongites and the possibility of being denied entry into the city in the future for daring to question the concept of TV talent shows at a time when Amit Paul has made it to the finals of Indian Idol 3, here's an attempt towards pacifying the die-hard fans of Shillong's latest singing sensation - some childhood and teenage photographs of him (Don't ask me whether I voted for him or not).

[Click on images for a larger view]

Teenaged Amit

Baby Amit with his grandmother

Boy Amit with his sister

Youthful Amit singing at a Shillong hotel

Amit's childhood photos courtesy: Eastern Panorama

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