Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pak Conversations - VII & Other Sundry Things

This post is specially dedicated to my one loyal reader who was sweet enough to ask for the next part of the series, therefore shaking me out of my recent blankness. So, Raghu, enjoy.

The next part of our trip was basically spent in Islamabad, with us making day trips to Taxila, Murree and Chakwal. More about the day trips later. It was time for indulgence, Islamabad style. So, we slept, and ate, and slept, and ate some more. P gave us shining demonstrations of her culinary skills and conjured up almost a tubful of delicious pasta in white sauce. We pretty much depleted around one-third of the larder. And then there was cake, and apple crumble pie, and every other thing that we wanted to stuff our faces with. It made me wonder how on earth she ever persuaded herself to eat the incessant nothingness that passes for food in the hostel mess. To keep ourselves entertained while eating, we also watched endless seasons of FRIENDS, and drooled over Colin Firth in 'Pride & Prejudice', the greatest Mills And Boon novel ever written. It was quite interesting to watch P trying to convince us that the lead actress opposite the hero of the fluttering female hearts was "so fat, its a wonder she hasn't burst yet". Ah, jealousy. Its so nice and warm, almost reassuring. We've still not given up on Darcy, inspite of having realised years ago that the best men exist only in the fertile imaginations of women.

In the evenings we set out to explore the local markets in Islamabad, which is probably the only city in Pakistan where 'local market' equals 'supermarket'. Anyway, they have these plush music stores and video stores dealing ONLY in pirated stuff. Its funny to watch our notions of piracy get inverted from shady little shops in Palika Bazaar to brightly lit, very propah establishments in downtown Islamabad (I love that word, 'downtown'). So, we shopped, and then some. And then, there were French fries. Potatoes cut in spiky shapes, spiced up and fried...heaven in ten bucks. McDonalds could take some lessons. And everybody who's had overpriced shawarmas in any of the Delhi establishments, YOU'VE BEEN GYPPED! The ones we had in Jinnah Super were succulent, delicious and huge, to boot. I do like to brag, don't I?
The only disappointment was that Covered Market, which is basically heaven for people who like junk jewellery, remained resolutely shut the whole time we were there. I guess the One Above realised that there is such a thing as too much happiness, and He/She didn't want to blight our young lives with it.

Now moving back to recent events, my curiosity was piqued by the publicity around 'Nishabd' recently. S and R were also interested, so we watched it, my going being especially traumatic after the recent fiasco involving a cellphone and another movie theatre. Anyway, getting back to the movie, it was a curious mix. It almost put me to sleep in the beginning, there were bits that were irritating in their stupidity (oh my god, that horrendous poem), and there were moments when I was gripped. So, yes, it wasn't good cinema, it was....interesting cinema. The only thing that comes for unqualified praise is the mindboggling cinematography. It was like a character in itself, and the most interesting of the lot.

One thing that killed the movie irreparably was the overabundance of stereotypes. The most obvious one was the Other Woman, of course. She just had to be dusky, leggy, accented (therefore not completely 'Indian', thus explaining the lack of our 'values'), and so....blah. She had to come from a broken family and have an absentee father, so as to make her actively seek out a father figure and then confusedly fall in love with him. The only saving grace was that she wasn't called Maya, thank heavens. I mean, for once, I'd like to see characters who don't have the crutch of non-normal lives take a risk and contravene social norms. I'd want to watch a movie where a girl who belongs to a 'happy family' (adorable parents, siblings, dog etc.) go beyond norms and act on her attraction to an older man. Why is it so necessary to give explanations for illogical behaviour? Isn't that what love is supposed to be all about anyway? Also, this movie is so spectacularly sanitised that it was a bit of a travesty to call it an adaptation of 'Lolita', that particular work giving new meaning to the word 'explicit'. Inspite of its taboo theme, Nishabd disappointingly stayed well within the lines drawn by the moral police, the censor board and any other social group that has the power to wantonly destroy furniture in cinema halls screening movies that 'go against our culture'. Sad. Or maybe my expectations were too unreasonable for a mainstream Bollywood movie. In conclusion, I didn't actually dislike the movie, but I could've liked it a lot better if it'd shown greater evidence of thought.

P.S.: - Writer's block is finally over! Jubilations!

P.P.S.: - On a less optimistic note, if you're wondering whether I'm annoyed with you, and you're unsure, I probably am. Good luck. :)

16 comments:

new age scheherazade said...

Amazing.
I wanna go! i especially love the fact that you don't go on about the architecture,the people-are-so-nice, the famous landmarks and so on. and what food-i could almost taste it...mmm.

raghu said...

hnmn..nishabd..i love the way rvg plays around with silence n stillness..

n well,welcome back!

heh? ok said...

@ scheherazade
ehehehe....i did go on and on about those things in my previous posts...eeps.

@ raghu
he should play around with social norms as well.

raghu said...

ya its a vast area na.. u hav a subtle way of sayin things.. u noe dat?

another brick in the wall said...

disappointment :(

tu pak ka itna chotaasa para kyon likha.. tu woh ganda sa movie ka likha aur pak ko chod diya :(.. mereko pak ka journey tu nahi bataati theek se.. waaaaa

:'(

Anonymous said...

You sound like Khaleed Mohammed who didn't get paid for his movie review. Chuckle Chuckle!

Urban Bourbon Ninja said...

Its a story, you know. While you have the right to critique it, you gotta realise that its his story, his expression, and that he has the right to say whatever he wants.

:) My 2bits.

heh? ok said...

@ raghu
heehee. is subtlety a good thing? if it is, thankee.

@ abw
abbe, its not always about quantity, you greedy pig. its about the time i spent in islamabad doing nothing. and what i wrote about the movie was important to me. why d'you crib about my choice of subject? that is out of bounds you know.

@ anon
that's coz i DIDN'T get paid, einstein.

Anonymous said...

You ain't Khaleed Mohammed either, Miss Bright-young-thing.

heh? ok said...

@ ninja
yes thankee for thy two bits. like i said, i was expecting something a bit less blah. i understand that its his space and his story, but it is part of a trend in hindi cinema to address sensitive issues by either placing them in foreign locales or by using the rationale of a disturbed background, and that irks me a bit. i'd like them to address the possibility of normal folks doing 'abnormal' things which cannot be explained away so easily.

heh? ok said...

@ anon
you're the one who said i sound like him, so i guess i sound credible, and that deserves monetary compensation, na? :P

Ranjit said...

You coulnt have put it better. eating out in delhi is seriously over-rated.

drool...drool...drool...

heh? ok said...

@ ranjit
me drooling too..those memories make hostel food harder to swallow, and every eating joint feels like a rip off :(

raghu said...

14th comment..they say 13 is unlucky!

heh? ok said...

@ raghu
thank you, you're most kind.

akhila said...

i dont believe this!!! i have been away sooo long and u have THREE posts up!!! but me is catching up and working my way upwards...hehe.
so pak land as usual...superb!!! me misses the fun soo much especially now with this damn wrk...but ur blog is like wicked brownie on a low day!!!
nishabd- well wat can i say. u knw my views on that...and being tipsy while watching it did lead to a slight headache which had to be dealt with by drinking some more ;)
i did not like the film at all...there was no chemistry, no lolita nor american beauty and it was too damn not entertaining! but i think if one sees it as new cinema it may not be that bad. now lemme explain 'new cinema' (as i am defining it here)- a new style which concentrates on recounting experience...completely oblivious of the fact that cinema needs emplotment!!!
OMG! i am so sorry. this is sooo long but as i said me been away from 'ice-cream' too long :-)