Archive for September, 2009

Survival of fittest is a great photo opportunity

30 September 2009


In the run-up to the general elections, the “former future prime minister of India” pumped iron to the pop of the photo bulbs. At the chintan baithak of BJP ministers at the JSS Mutt in Suttur, 28 km from Mysore, on Wednesday, chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, his cabinet colleague Shobha Karandlaje, and their colleagues limber up for Thursday morning’s newspapers.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News


The B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

Is it an idol? Is it a statue? Is it a mannequin?

One leg in the chair, two eyes on the chair

Yedi, steady, go: all the gods must be crazy

Kissa Karnataka chief minister’s kursi ka: Part IV

Why did the chief minister cross the road divider?

Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down

Dressed to thrill: Yedi-Chini bhai bhai in Shanghai

Sometimes like Vishy, sometimes Douglas Jardine

30 September 2009

Gundappa Viswanath‘s tenure as captain of the Indian cricket team was shorter than Sachin Tendulkar‘s but a lot more memorable.

In the jubilee Test against England in Bombay, the “Bhimsen Joshi of Bhadravathi” called back wicket-keeper Bob Taylor, who had been wrongly adjudged out by the umpire. Taylor then went on to cement a crucial partnership with Ian Botham which won them the match.

That incident on top of several others, before and after, fetched Vishy a “nice man” image that no other cricketer, Indian or foreign, seems to enjoy with such unanimous universality.

Not so Andrew Strauss, the English captain.

Ayaz Memon writes in DNA:

“Sometimes Cowdrey, sometimes Jardine, Andrew Strauss’s split personality has provided the Champions Trophy in South Africa with its most engaging talking point.

“The two former England captains, for the uninitiated, represent two extreme positions in the game. Colin Cowdrey was a gentleman even though a professional, while Douglas Jardine, a gentleman by the then definition, was a hard-boiled pro who would stop at nothing to win.

“Strauss, who overruled the umpire and recalled Angelo Matthews in the best spirit of the game after the Sri Lankan was run out because he had crashed into bowler Graham Onions, cussedly refused to give South African skipper a runner when he suffered from cramps.

“You should be prepared for such things if you play a long innings,” he said tersely after the match. Smith overcame his dejection and came back with a counter. “My experience suggests that this game, like the world, comes around completely.”

“England are touring South Africa shortly. Fireworks are expected.”

Read the full article: Ayaz Memon on Dhoni

Also read: Is State’s success in cricket and economics related?

No, he’s not laughing at the plight of Air-India

29 September 2009


On a day when Air India’s maharaja began to look a little less stately with its fat cats going on strike, the king of good times, Vijay Mallya—the owner of Kingfisher Airlines and a “doctorate of philosophy in business administration from the University of South California”—enjoys a hearty laugh at a business do in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask “Dr” Vijay Mallya

The king of good times rescues a very old monk

Don’t blame the boys for lack of preparation

29 September 2009

If Australia beats Pakistan, India is out of the Champions Trophy. If Pakistan beats Australia by a slender margin, India has to beat West Indies by a huge margin. If Pakistan beats Australia by a huge margin, India has to beat West Indies albeit by a lesser huge margin.

All very confusing? Not if you drink Pepsi—as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ishant Sharma, Virender Sehwag, Praveen Kumar and Robin Uthappa do. Not even this advance, under-water preparation was enough to prepare them for the ravages of a rained-out match against the Aussies last night.

Bookmark Uthappa’s classic line at the end.

At last, a ‘different’ film that is actually different

29 September 2009

RAJEEV A. RAO writes from Bangalore: After watching Gaalipata, I had mentioned that Yogaraj Bhat had a challenge upfront for his next venture—“to take the road not taken, to tread on uncharted territory and to significantly exceed expectations”.

22 months later, it gives me great pleasure to report that Bhat scores a neat hat-trick with Manasaare. It has all the elements from his earlier celluloid successes while at the same time being a refreshingly fresh movie —a “statement movie” in the garb of a love story.

The whole storyline has been woven to make one statement: don’t worry about this world, this world is a huchchara santhe (mad world).  Starting with that surmise, Bhat builds up his pieces to make a bold/ unconventional film that might, however, leave many viewers (and reviewers) wondering.

Comparisons may be odious, even inevitable, if a director is following up on Mungaaru Male and Gaalipata.  But Bhat makes sure that such comparisons are also redundant.

One could say that the film has an even thinner storyline compared to his earlier two films. He has let go of his favorite actors (Ganesh, Anant Nag), his favourite animals (the rabbit and the pig), and his favourite element (the rain.)  Instead, he relies on a stronger script (newcomer Pawan Kumar) and witty dialogues bordering on the ironical  as main spine of the movie.

Lilting music by Mano Murthy that grows upon you, impeccable photography by Sathya Hegde and the word wizardry of Jayant Kaikini and Bhat himself complement this unusual fare.

Faith in a fairly new cast (at least for a commercial film) has paid off.  While Digant and Aindrita Ray prove to be a candy-floss on-screen couple (with fairly creditable performance to boot by each), Raju Thaalikoti steals the show with his Dhaarawaadi dialect and dialogue delivery: gems like “temporary huchcharu oLage and permanent huchcharu Horage” (temporary mad men inside, permanent mad men outside) abound.

The technical crew has delivered a top-notch performance—the picturisation of the song “Naa naguva modalene” sums up the crew’s performance, elevating the song to a visual treat. Bhat and team drive home the point that concept and script are the pillars of their movies, with a simple but brilliantly executed climax.

The reviewers are a flummoxed lot. The New Indian Express and DNA largely hail the movie. Deccan Herald hints cruelly at “inspirations” when there are none, and The Times of India childishly labels the movie “a romance”. Vijaya Karnataka has an honestly positive review at the same time wondering how reviewers can assign “stars” to such an unusual movie.

And like the reviewers, one would expect that the movie, given its concept and execution, would garner mixed feelings from its viewers.  But, coming at a time when there is such a lack of fresh ideas and execution in Kannada filmdom, this is a movie to be watched by all and judged by each.

Bhattare, we are eagerly waiting for your next one.

Also read: Jayant Kaikini: Means are as vital as the end

Jayant Kaikini: The wrath of the sambar-lover

For whom does the bell toll at the Bannimantapa?

28 September 2009


Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, the scion of the erstwhile royal family of Mysore, performs banni pooja on Vijayadashami at the culmination of the nine-day Dasara festival in Mysore on Monday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

‘Not tonight, darling. I have a match day after’

28 September 2009

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Back when Kerry Packer ushered in day-night cricket, the slogan used to be “Big boys play at night.” As if to prove that life imitates art, Indian cricket coach Gary Kirsten has told the boys in blue to have sex to perform better.

“Having sex increases testosterone levels, which causes an increase in strength, aggression and competitiveness. Conversely, not having sex for a few months causes a significant drop,” a vision statement handed to the team reads.

Whether the advice has been taken to the loins, we will know tonight when India take on Australia in a do-or-die, maro-ya-karo (pun unintended) match in the Champions Trophy. If the team wins, we can safely conclude that bodily fluids have been saefly exchanged.

If not, we can conclude the poor l’il things have been sleeping, like Khushwant Singh, with a hot-water bottle after the defeat against Pakistan two nights ago.

But in an era when cheer girls are hanging around beyond the boundary, Gary’s ‘Game Sutra‘ now has plenty of potential to be misunderstood.

So, here goes top-12 commentary cliches that now stand the risk of sounding, well, a little risque.

12) “The third umpire is bringing in a new set of balls.”

11)“Will they send the night watchman?”

10) “This is the Cup they are are fighting for.”

9) “Oh, oh, oh. He let’s it go between his legs.”

8) “This might prove to be a costly miss.”

7) “He has always had tremendous hand-eye coordination…”

6) “Short-leg has gone back a little.”

5) “Up goes the umpire’s finger.”

4) “He stroked the ball between fine leg and square leg.”

3) “I did it for the team.” (variation: “I did it for my father.”)

2) “It was a half-cock shot.”

1) “In comes “The  Little Master”. Is it going to be his day today?”


28 September 2009

allenchurumuri records with a heavy heart the passing away of Allen J. Mendonca, the former Indian Express and Times of India journalist, in Bangalore on Monday. He is survived by his wife Sandhya Mendonca and their son.

Allen, the son of a Reserve Bank of India employee, was an old-school journalist for whom no beat, no story was taboo. Starting out at Bangalore’s legendary but now-defunct tabloid City Tab (run by the Tharakan couple), he covered crime, politics, information technology; composed jingles for television; acted in plays; wrote movie reviews; composed and sang music; and played the guitar.

He even starred in the  national award film, Stumble, directed by former Indian Express colleague Prakash Belavadi.

At a 2002 lecture at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media in Bangalore, Allen said:

“Journalism of courage has given way to a journalism of consensus…. Although there are some world-class writers in our country, there are very few world-class journalists.”

In 2003, Allen co-founded Raintree Media, a communications and media business process outsourcing outfit with offices in Kuala Lumpur, Port St Louis, and Bangalore.

Last night, he went home after a party and did not wake up this morning.

Photograph: courtesy IIJNM

Sign on Allen J. Mendonca’s Facebook wall

Visit the Raintree Media blog

Will you buy a used crystal ball from these men?

27 September 2009


Astrologers, palmists, numerologists, soothsayers, gemmologists and assorted fortune-tellers are supposed to reassure us about the future. But television bosses, especially in Hindi, seem to have decided that they can only get their message across if they are ghastly and scare the hell out of viewers.

Also read: What the stars foretell for you—yes, you—this week

What the stars foretell our Avivekanandas

World’s largest landbank holder is namma Creema

26 September 2009

At a time when Indian industrialists are finding it difficult to acquire land without running into trouble with farmers, greens and politicians, among others, the world’s largest landbank holder, by his own admission, is SRK: Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi.

saiThe 43-year-old, known to his classmates at the Ramakrishna Vidyashala in Mysore as “Creema” (because of his love for cream biscuits), now owns 3,000 square kilometres of land in Ethiopia. And at 550 million roses per year, he may now be the world’s largest grower of cut roses.

How big is 3,000 sq km? Eight times the size of Bombay: 740,000 acres.

Creema‘s company, Karuturi Global, is listed by the United Nations conference on trade and development (UNCTAD) as one of the 25 top transnational agri-business corporations. After cut roses, his company has branched into sugarcane, coffee, maize, palm, and other staples, and is all set to enter Uganda and Congo.

According to Forbes, Karuturi Global’s revenue has soared from $1.2 million for the year ended March 2004 to $100 million for fiscal 2008. Profits have jumped from $160,000 to $25.4 million over the same period.

Creema‘s amazing story adorns the launch edition of The Times of India‘s Crest edition in Bombay and Delhi today. Asha Rai reports that Creema was thrown out of six schools before he landed up in at the Ramakrishna Vidyashala, and Creema pays rich tributes to Swami Sureshananda (and his parents) for not giving up on him.

Ramakrishna moved his wife Anita and their three daughters to Addis Ababa six months ago. Not an “outgoing kind of person”, Creema is quoted as saying he’s always home by 7 pm to spend time with his three girls aged 14, 12 and 3. He used to enjoy walking around his farms with his wife Anitha but now has to drive “as they are too big to walk.”

Photograph: courtesy Karuturi Global

Also read: Once upon a time in Ramakrishna Vidyashala

Anil Kumble at the Ramakrishna Vidyashala

Why the national media ignores National Awards

26 September 2009

girishkasaravalli2Girish Kasaravalli, winner of four national film awards—third only to Satyajit Ray (6) and Buddhadeb Dasgupta (5)—and director of Gulabi Talkies which won Umashree a national award for best actress this year, in the latest issue of India Today:

“This year the south has swept the awards which is why the National Awards have been largely ignored by the national media. There is an ‘our cinema’ and ‘their cinema’ as far as Bollywood is concerned.”

Also read: ‘Bollywood: India’s most moronic cultural export’

‘Bollywood’s a scam. Farah Khan is a big, fat con’

Adoor: Do only Bollywood beauties possess glamour?

Mammootty: Is Hindi cinema Indian cinema?

They also serve who hang and swerve and swab

25 September 2009

KPN photo

There’s plenty of shimmering stuff all around us in the glass-and-steel structures, but somebody’s gotta keep them clean. A tethered cleaner giving a wipe forms a silhouette against a glass wall in Bangalore on Friday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Could the media end up killing Barack Obama?

25 September 2009

Al Jazeera’s media show, The Listening Post, on how 24×7 media is dangerously inflaming passions against US President Barack Obama with lies, untruths and rhetoric—a little like the way a newspaper advertisement greeted John F. Kennedy the day he arrived in Dallas in 1963.

Also read: How global media covered Barack Obama inauguration

The media’s obsession with Obama is worrisome

Our man from Maddur is shorter than you think

25 September 2009

Photo of EAM with President Obama on 23 Sept 09

While his five-star stay continues to drive the headlines in New Delhi, Union external affairs minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna poses with US President Barack Hussein Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during a reception at the Metropolitan Museum, on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly, in New York City on Wednesday.

Photograph: Lawrence Jackson/ The White House

Also read: Who is this man who has S.M. Krishna‘s left ear?

Can Maddur vade usher in peace in the subcontinent?

Taliban squared + LeT squared > ISI squared

25 September 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The telephone rang in the middle of the night. Pythagoras (570-495 BC) woke up with a start but did not know what to do or how to stop the noise.

Euclid was equally puzzled.

Luckily Srinivasa Ramanujan was around. He asked Pythagoras to lift the hand set, say ‘Hello’ and listen to the voice first and then speak, if need be.


“Hello! Is it janaab Pythagoras?”

“Yes, it is. What do you want?”

“Listen. We need more proof for your theorem of the right-angled triangle. Without that, we cannot teach your theorem in our schools any more.”

“May I know who is speaking, please?”

“Pytho-saab, I am Shah Mehmood Quereshi, foreign minister of Pakistan. Our secondary school board chief and President, Asif Ali Zardari, feel your theorem lacks irrefutable clinching proof. Do you understand? Irrefutable clinching proof. Without that I am afraid we will have to drop your theorem from our schools and madrassas.”

“Pakistan? Zardari? Madrassa? Are these new theorems? My theorem simply states: ‘The sum of the areas of the two squares of a right angled triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse’. I have proved it myself and I believe there are around 80 proofs for my theorem now. I don’t understand what your problem is.”

“Pytho-ji. Please understand. We in Pakistan need more proof that would hold good even in court… By the way, has the United Nations approved your theorem?”

“Mr Quereshi, you cannot make a triangle with just two sides. This is elementary geometry. You must have a third side to make it a triangle and call it UNO or something like that.”

“I was using a short form of UNO. Anyway, I will call you again tomorrow. If you want your theorem should be taught in our schools, you will have to provide more conclusive, clinching proof. Otherwise, we will drop your theorem from our curriculum. Do you understand?”


“Khuda hafiz.”


Pythagoras did have Euclid, Garfield and Ramanajan with him for company. But none of them could think of irrefutable clinching evidence which could be used in Quereshi’s courts, schools, madrassas etc. Finally they found someone who felt he could satisfy Quereshi.

Pythagoras was relieved.

Next day when the call came, Pythagoras was ready.

“Do you have conclusive proof now?” asked Mr Q.

“Yes. Note down please. As you know, my theorem is: A squared + B squared = C squared.  I have modified the theorem for you. You can now read the theorem as: Taliban squared + LeT squared = ISI squared. where ISI is equal to members of Inter-Service Intelligence, and Taliban and LeT is equal to the terrorists.  This in a way describes your country too. I hope your President and students will be able to understand the theorem better and follow the proof I have given earlier.”

“Thank you Mr Pythagoras, now it is pretty clear you have been decorated with the nishaan-e-Greece. I get the complete picture.  I can also use it for the 26/11 Bombay seige. We are unable to prosecute some of our people for lack of irrefutable, clinching evidence. By the way, who helped you with the modified theorem? Some South Indian, I suppose?”

“No, no. These Indians are still happy finding water on the moon! It was your countryman General Zia-ul-Haq who helped. He explained the various forces that operate in your country. This helped me to modify my theorem.  If you know how many Talibans and LeT are there with you, you can easily calculate the number of ISI in your government It is just the square root of Taliban squared plus LeT squared. General Zia was confident this will help you a lot. Is this so?”

“Yes, it will.”

“If you know any two, you can calculate the third.”

“Now your theorem makes sense. QED.  We will use the modified theorem. Thanks again, Pythagoras saab“.

“Hang on, there is a corollary to my theorem. I understand the position in Pakistan is always rather acute. If that is so, Taliban squared + LeT squared will always be greater than ISI squared. Got it?”

“Yes. Thank you Mr Pythagoras. Khuda hafiz.”

“Take care, my friend.”

‘Twitter has 140 characters. Lok Sabha has 545.’

25 September 2009


Maybe this is what minister of state for  Shashi Tharoor had in mind when he was expressing his desire to travel cattle-class in solidarity with the holy cows, the sacred animals which supply the milk for the high tea and cutting chai of the aam admi?

Photograph: M.K. Vidyaranya

It’s not the winning that counts, it’s the grinning

24 September 2009

KPN photo

At the Dasara half-marathon, the minister in charge of Mysore district, Shobha Karandlaje, shows her youthful best as her cabinet colleague Gulihatti Shekhar and others try to keep pace, in Mysore on Thursday. Don’t ask us if she completed the race or not.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

‘Caste is what has made Indians fearful of change’

24 September 2009

Why doesn’t the BJP, which brags so much of inner-party democracy, simply not go ahead and hold an election to elect its next leader, instead of humiliating L.K. Advani from below while trying to anoint a leader from above?

R. Jagannathan, in DNA, suggests that the reason may be caste. Centuries of caste-based protection has made Indians reluctant to change; afraid to abandon the old even after it has outlived its utility. Therefore, he says, we are afraid of the outcome of democracy.

“Caste is like the shell of the tortoise. When faced with predators, the tortoise withdraws into its shell. Caste was the protective shelter under which the Indic peoples withdrew when confronted with the radical new ideologies of Christianity and Islam. So successful has caste been as protector, that even the others have adopted it. Caste now permeates Indian Islam and Christianity, not to speak of Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. Put another way, caste is a force independent of Hinduism.”

Read the full article: BJP’s succession blues

Because, like Elvis, they only show him waist up

24 September 2009


True, the Congress is in the midst of a Bogus Austerity Drama (BAD), but do its spokesmen have to drop their pants to make it seem real?! On a hot summer evening, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the party’s “Minister of State for Satellite TV”, does a “live” interview with a television channel from his residence in Delhi in kurta and shorts.

Obviously, since television doesn’t show the bottom-half of talking heads, it doesn’t matter. But how might Singhvi, a jovial Supreme Court lawyer man who loves splitting hairs even while having, say, a haircut, explain this wardrobe malfunction to Barkha Dutt tonight in his trademark pointwise summation?

“Barkha, three quick points: a) The mere fact that I am in my kurta-cheddi doesn’t mean I have been directed by the party to make a public display of my commitment to the austerity measures. b) Even if I have, merely because you can see my legs, you cannot conclude that these are the only austerity measures I am practising. There may be more, there may be less. c) And may I remind my learned colleague, since when did it become illegal to wear nothing below the waist, when the father of the nation wore nothing above?

“And, Barkha, Barkha, one last point, Barkha, regardless of whether I am in a kurta-pyjama or kurta-cheddi, surely it’s an invasion of an individual’s right to privacy for such pictures shot at the front porch of a private citizen’s private residence to be put out in the public sphere? Sure, Article 19(1) (a) as by law established guarantees freedom of speech and expression and we respect that, but let’s not forget it comes with reasonable restrictions insofaras public order, decency or morality is concerned….”

Also read: Are you being served, Mr Foreign Correspondent?

The Top-10 austerity moves India really wants to hear

Is that tap water the austere madam is drinking?

Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

If a report is not ‘wrong’, does it become ‘right’?

23 September 2009


The threat of war between India and China has still not receded but the battle between unnamed home ministry sources continues relentlessly.

Caught in the crossfire: journalists.

First, The Hindu reported, quoting unnamed home ministry sources, that the government was contemplating filing a first information report against two journalists of The Times of India for a “wrong” report on two Indian soldiers being injured in firing by the Chinese in Sikkim.

Then, The Indian Express gleefully repeated the claim, again quoting unnamed home ministry sources.

Now, Press Trust of India reports, quoting unnamed home ministry sources, that “top officials” of the government has decided to “let it go”.

Questions: Has the Indian government seen the writing on the wall and climbed down? Or, was there no such attempt to file a complaint in the first place? If the FIR against the “wrong” report is not being filed, are we to conclude that the report was “right”?

Which means, were Indian soldiers injured in Chinese firing?

Which means, is the situation on “the longest disputed border in the world” far from normal?

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Also read: Censorship in the name of the ‘national interest’?

Because your TV cannot devote a full 23 minutes

Are you being served, Mr Foreign Correspondent?

23 September 2009

The Congress-led UPA government’s Bogus Austerity Drama (BAD) has seen ministers move out of five-star hotels, party leaders move around in economy-class planes and trains, and a Twitter comment about the “cattle-class” and “holy cows” sending the country all atwitter.

In the midst of all this, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has embarked on his annual pilgrimage to the United Nations with a band of diplomacy correspondents in tow.

Naveen Kapoor of the news agency Asian News International (ANI), who is accompanying the PM to New York, has this telling line in his report on day one:

“Following the [austerity] order to a tee, the [airline] staff did not serve expensive biscuits and eliminated caviar, but in a concession to the media accompanying the delegation, served all those on board the choicest of liquor en route to Frankfurt, where there will be an overnight halt.”

Link via Mahesh Vijapurkar

Also read: The Top-10 austerity moves India really wants to hear

Is that tap water the austere madam is drinking?

Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

Last great cavalry victory of the Mysore Lancers

23 September 2009


VADIRAJ HOMBAL forwards an Oxford University archival image of the Mysore Lancers and Jodhpore Lancers passing through Haifa (in modern-day Israel), following the city’s capture from the Ottoman empire of the Turks in the Battle of Megiddo.

Most of the Mysore troopers, who were part of the British Empire forces, wore steel helmets, while the Sikhs kept their turbans on.

Today, September 23, is the 90th anniversary of what is reputed to be the “last great cavalry victory of the Mysore Lancers”.

Photograph: courtesy Imperial War Museum photographic archive

CHURUMURI POLL: Is Dalit Dinakaran above law?

23 September 2009

The strange case of Justice P.D. Dinakaran” has taken a strange turn. A group of advocates and activists in Tamil Nadu are alleging that the chief justice of the Karnataka High Court is the victim of a motivated vilification campaign. That his character is being assassinated because he is a Dalit.

“The real agenda is to prevent a member of a backward community from entering the ‘sanctum sanctorum’, now a monopoly of the upper castes,” K. Veeramani, general secretary of Dravida Kazhagam, the parent organisation of the DMK, has been quoted as saying.

The figleaf was provided by the veteran jurist Shanti Bhushan, who was among the legal eagles who brought the memorandum of charges prepared by the Madras-based Forum for Judicial Accountability to the notice of the chief justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, also a Dalit.

In an interview to The Pioneer, Delhi, Bhushan is reported to have said:

“It is inexplicable on the part of the CJI as to why he is not consulting the judges of the Supreme Court, like Justices M. Katju and A.K. Ganguly, under whom Dinakaran has served. So many lawyers are making allegations against him. Why is he (CJI) so keen to get him (Dinakaran) appointed? Perhaps the reason may be that he is a Dalit. We cannot say.”

An imputation of favouritism was also made by the SC lawyer Rajeev Dhavan in an article in Mail Today, after Justice Dinakaran excused himself from a tour to Australia once the scandal broke:

“Justice Dinakaran has declared that he will not accompany the ‘judges exchange’ delegation to Australia. There is a lot to doubt whethere he deserved to be a delegate over others in the first place. Someone seems to have a soft spot for him.”

Questions: Is Justice Dinakaran being because he is a Dalit? Or is this a lame attempt to give the controversy a caste colour to shield the judge? Should a Dalit be excused if he is accused of land grabbing, corruption, abuse of office and lack of probity merely because he is a Dalit? Is a Dalit entitled to take away lands of other Dalits, as is being alleged, because he is a Dalit?

Also read: The strange case of Justice P.D. Dinakaran

If he is unfit for Delhi, how is he fit for Karnataka?

A sleepy town: now officially recognised by govt

23 September 2009

It’s one thing for travel writers dipping into their thesauruses to blindly term Mysore “a sleepy town” or “a pensioner’s paradise”. But what when the government officially believes that all Mysoreans are in a perpetual state of siesta for eleven months and 20 days of the year, and only wake up to smell the (filter) coffee for the nine nights of Navaratri?

Great branding?

Or a maha insult?

Why Pokiri (Telugu) is better than Wanted (Hindi)

22 September 2009


ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: As a shameless fan of the new breed of slick South Indian flicks, with their cheap tricks and sexy chicks, please permit me one more attempt at silly alliteration: Puri Jagganath‘s Pokiri was total paisa-vasool for the hicks in the cattle-class, unless, of course, they had deposited their you-know-what in the gold class at PVR.

With a frantic plot immersed in testosterone and coated with impossible machismo, fast action, groovy music, a sexy heroine, voluptuous vamps, good chases, not-so-bad humour and endless violence, only those who dream in sepia tone of Akira Kurosawa and Louis Malle, would find it difficult to admit that the tapori stuff was not ‘bombaat time-pass’.

In both Telugu and Tamil.

In Telugu more than Tamil.

So, it was with no small expectation that I went to see Wanted, the Hindi version of Pokiri starring Salman Khan. And it gives me great joy to report that like masala dosa and mathematics, this new breed of slick South Indian flicks will remain a South Indian speciality. And this despite the director of the Tamil Pokiri (Prabhu Deva) having made the Hindi Pokiri.


#1: Mahesh Babu is better than Vijay is better than Salman Khan

Pokkiri5-1OK, his father Krishna couldn’t act, speak, dance or fight to save his life but yet went on to become a star. Mahesh Babu can do a bit of all that and even has a screen presence to match—and is a star. In Tamil, too, Vijay (left) brought younger legs. The ageing but finely chiseled Salman Khan looks like he’s dancing with a Jaipur foot. And surely Pandu sounds more endearing than Radhe any day? I saw Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN write “Watch Wanted for Salman”. Our fullest sympathies with those who have to.

#2: Ileana is better than Asin is better than Ayesha Takia

sexy_ayesha_takia235There’s no way of knowing, of course, for us earthlings, but one presumes that 30-26-29 are the first six digits of Ileana’s phone number. Or 32-28-34 of Asin’s. But Ayesha Takia (who was apparently originally slotted for the role of Shruti in the Telugu Pokiri) is clearly from Silicon Valley judging from the 42-27-30 area code. Ileana brought a certain lightness; Asin a certain effervescence. Takia is too top-heavy, much too much in your face, especially with her whole body looking like a surgical appendage of her defining organ. Why, you sometimes fear the poor thing might just topple over.

#3:  Mani Sharma (Telugu) is better than Mani Sharma (Tamil) is better than Sajid-Wajid

ManisharmaIn both the South Indian versions, the music was a defining feature of the film, like Ghajini, meaningless maybe but still a very important part of the movie. Each of the six numbers in Telugu were foottappingly good, and at least a couple of them (Deva devuda, Jagadame, Vasantha mulai) were memorable in the context of a “mass” movie. But in the Hindi remake, the music sticks out like a sore thumb. Why, even the names Sajid-Wajid sounds like the director is playing a small joke on the audience.

#4: Bramhanandam and Ali are better than Vadivelu is better than whoever it is who is playing Bramhanandam or Vadivelu

comedian-brahmanandam-28The humour in the Telugu Pokiri, especially the beggar sequence, is done well and with great novelty. It is even decent by the rapidly plumetting standards of South Indian humour. It gets loud in Tamil, of course, but in Hindi it positively plumbs the depths, often bordering on the execrable. When “Teri maa ki bleep”, “Teri maa ki bleep” gets a lot of shouts even from those who have paid Rs 250 per ticket, you have to send a silent prayer to the censor board members—and their mothers.

#5:  Upma is better than thayir sadam is better than pasta

Seriously, what is this pasta fixation for a fatherless girl working in a call centre in Wanted? Some kind of status symbol on the Virar Slow? Doesn’t maaji dig roti or parantha or phulka? Think outside the lunch box, Prabhuji. See how funny “Nee yenna periya pasta va?” sounds as compared to the original “Nee yenna periya pista va?” If there is one shot which exposes the pretentiousness of Bollywood, the disconnect with the masses it serves, it is the pasta.

#6 Mummaith Khan is better than whoever it is who is trying to play Mummaith Khan

918695_f520Mmmm. Don’t just take my word for it. Click here for the full evidence: Ippatininka naa vayasu inka padahare or En chella peru apple. Like a good villain, Alibhai (Prakash Raj) has the right molls around him in Telugu and Tamil. He is even in the right business, running night clubs and such like. But Ghanibhai (Prakash Raj) screws up bigtime in the kind of item girls he employs in Hindi. He should pay dearly for this unpardonable sin.


You could go on and on.

That Alibhai sounds better than Ghanibhai, even if they are both played by the same national award winning actor.

That the Telugu or Tamil versions didn’t have to accommodate Govinda or Anil Kapoor. Etcetera.

If there are two areas that the Hindi Pokiri stands shoulder to shoulder with the South Indian ones, it is in the casting of Vinod Khanna as Salman’s father (as against Nasser in Telugu and Tamil).

And the cops.  Mahesh Manjrekar fares better than the overacting Ashish Vidyarthi as the lecherous sub-inspector, bringing back memories of Tinnu Anand. And Govind Namdeo scores over the even more overacting (and overdubbing) Sayaji Shinde as the honest police officer.

Prabhudeva showed enormous promise with his Tamil adaptation of the Telugu Pokiri. But in the Hindi remake, he totally blows it. But having seen the Tamil Pokiri, too, you have to wonder like the great bard did, if the fault lies in him— or that of his stars.

Also read: Why Tamil Ghajini is better than Hindi Ghajini

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Conceited, egotistical, nacissistic but the greatest?