26 August, 2008

Why Do People Watch Porn?

Guys watch it for cheap thrills and to let out the ‘extra stuff’. Girls watch it out of curiosity and wonder what the porn star got that she hasn’t got. Kids watch it because it is a forbidden fruit and it’s very human to rebel! Couples watch it to learn some new tricks and get some zing back into their lives (which I think is by far the most sensible use of it!)

Most people justify themselves by saying that it is the sole form of sex education available to them. Where else, apart from boring biology textbooks, would they get to learn about the male and female anatomy in so much detail and know how babies are born! Kids wonder as to why are two grown up, naked people trying to strike funny poses and deriving fun out of it? Now, this is the first step into trouble-land. Curiosity leads kids into getting their questions answered from all the wrong sources and means possible because to them pornography seems to be the best or rather the only answer!

Experimenting with new things is not bad and pornography is not an exception. But since it can distort value systems in young minds and give unrealistic impressions about the act of sex and human bodies with all those silicon implants and testosteron pumped bodies, it certainly helps to give them a strong background knowledge at an age when their brains haven’t lost their elasticity so that they don’t have trouble telling right from wrong.

Watching or reading porn is not sinful but a person should know what he/she is in for and what it means. The purpose of it should not extend beyond occasional entertainment. It should not become a means to satiate curiosity about sex.

There is one missing element on the road between a person and pornography and that is COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION (by anyone who can deliver it...that means us as well!)

Depression: A Biochemical Process

With depression making rounds in the society in a grand manner, scientists may be on the verge of discovering a bio-chemical indicator for the assessment of depression. A condition which hitherto was diagnosed solely on the subjective opinion of a practitioner may now have a ‘lab test’ to determine the severity of the condition as well as the effect of different treatments and therapies on a particular patient.

Scientists at the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois suggest that depression involves a bio-chemical process wherein the brain releases specific substances which can be detected by laboratory tests. The researchers conducted a post–mortem study of depressed people who committed suicide and compared their findings to that of normal people. They established that a certain protein called Gs alpha which relays information between the brain cells and the neuro-transmitters seemed to have been less effective in depressive people.

One of the main concerns faced by psychiatrists while treating a patient with anti-depressants is the unpredictability of the drug’s effect. Rasenick and his team are hopeful that this proposed technique would significantly step up the efficacy and quality of management of depressive disorders.

Bridging The Generation Gap

The very existence of a “generation” is dependant on its comparison with the one before and after it – which makes difference between generations inevitable and rather necessary for the sake of definition. Arranged in chronological order, today’s society is an amalgam of four generations- baby boomers, Gen X, the MTV Generation and Gen Y. Clashes in viewpoints (social, political, religious and moral), differences in musical and sartorial tastes, norms of acceptable behavior and priorities therefore is not surprising. This phenomenon is what we commonly refer to as a “generation gap”. This “gap” stems from the inability of the young and the old to understand and identify with each other. Although some people may rubbish the whole concept and label it passé, the impact of generational differences are evident is practically every sphere of life; including family, education, career, marriage and retirement plans. Each generation works in its own distinct pattern and strives to be as different as possible from the one preceding them.

A typical conversation between a parent and teenager is bound to be interspersed with phrases like “In our days….”; “are you actually going to wear that outfit”; “things are different now”; “give me a break ma” and “I need my space”. While the older generation always sees the younger one as inexperienced and irrational, the younger lot thinks they are old-fashioned and not at all “moving with the times”. Neither of them is wrong in their assumptions- it is just that the older generation refuses to accept that their children have moved out of the cradle and need to make their own decisions. The younger generation on the other hand, fails to realize that their parents mean well and expect them to learn from experience and mistakes rather than committing them on their own. For most teenagers, parents are always the dictator who cannot bear to see them happy. Many parents often find themselves entirely phased out as they make futile attempts to communicate and understand their children- only to end up wishing they had never grown up! The conflict is brought out beautifully in Joyce Carol’s “Where are you going, Where have you been? When Connie’s mother nags her: “Why don’t you keep your room clean like your sister? How’ve you got your hair fixed—what the hell stinks? Hair spray? You don’t see your sister using that junk.” Connie “wished her mother was dead and she herself was dead and it was all over”. “She makes me want to throw up sometimes,” she complains. The first glimpse of generation gap usually surfaces during the teenage years and this is often only the beginning.

Conflicts between parents and children often arise out of parent’s irrational expectations out of their child as they expect the latter to achieve what they desired to but could not. Young adults are constantly subjected to pressure from parents urging them to follow a conventional career path without acknowledging their aptitude and potentials. A teenagers desire to establish his own worth in a chosen field is overlooked and often clouded by parental aspirations for them. As Bruno Bettelheim aptly puts it: “Youths come to grief nowadays because of their parent’s insistence that the former justify themselves as parents rather than because of any revived oedipal desires for their mothers or fathers”. A child may succumb to pressure and achieve what a parent desires of him but that does not necessarily amount to internal happiness and emotional well-being of the child. In “The Setting Sun and the Rolling World” by Charles Mungoshi , Nhamo thinks that his father has “given him nothing and all”- something which reflects many a teenager’s opinions as they pine for freedom of decision along with the basic facilities provided to them. The older generation sometimes fail to realize that even though there children are dependant on them for survival, they are also old enough to have opinions and aspirations of there own. It is only when the old generation refuses to step back in order to make for new ideas and culture; does generation conflicts arise.

Pattern of education has also undergone a sea change with a shift in focuses and priorities. “Whilst today’s education system encourages individuality, and expression of opinion, the education system of the 40s and 50s put a firm emphasis on discipline and uniformity” (BBC). Education now had transcended beyond bookish knowledge and lays more emphasis on over-all character development. Mediums like internet and tele-education were practically unheard of in the 50’s and 60’s and hence the Boomers had only their books and a few audio-visual sources to rely upon. The newer generation was encouraged to analyze and interpret books based on their own sensibilities as opposed to memorizing and reproducing text which was a common mode of learning until a few years ago. This change is now reflected in the difference in approach of the two generations in problem-solving and teaching methods. Boomers also find it difficult to see sense in recent trends like blogging and networking for friends and dating. They would rather spend money on an international call than try to endlessly chat over the internet for free just because they were not exposed to such concepts in their formative years.

Even in the professional arena, Boomers are known as the more “subtle” generation and X-ers and Y-ers are subjected to continuous scrutiny regarding the clothes they wear, the language they use and the time they put into their work. Often, the young employee’s expression of self though tattoos, radical fashion and body piercing is met with resentment from the Boomer leading to workplace conflicts. The latter views such fashion as “offensive”, “un-professional” and even “vulgar”. They tend to emphasize more upon the young worker’s personal attributes that his/her professional credibility. According to Dan Kadlec- co-author of The Power Years, a guide for boomers- “Tensions typically stem from perceptions of loyalty and respect - as in, we think the kids don’t have any”. Along years the work pattern has also undergone a drastic transformation. The generation of Boomers has seen extreme struggle and job scarcity which is not the case with the younger lot. As a result, the latter are more willing to take risks in their careers, change jobs and switch professions – all of which was unthinkable of in the 70’s and 80’s. While a Boomer would not think much of working past office hours and even on weekends, an X-er has stringent rules about personal and professional time and does not allow one to infringe upon the other .nevertheless; they do not compromise on quality and efficiency by being more focused. Also, thirty-something’s are accustomed to following their job blindly without raising an eye-brow to the instructions. They feel irked and offended when a twenty-something questions their authority and demands explanations and view this as a mark of disrespect- even when it may simply stem from curiosity and a need to establish a logic in implementing instructions. The older generation still prefers to communicate via the old fashioned and formal means like meetings and letters and the new generation considers it perfectly acceptable to convey a professional message via a short e-mail or text message. According to the Boomers the X-ers and Y-ers lack serious work ethic whereas the latter feel that the former refuse to embrace chance which is essential for progression.

The generation of Boomers witnessed the trend of young adults moving out of their parental homes around the age of eighteen in pursuit of education or jobs and to establish an identity and family of their own. According to Marcia Mogelonsky “When a college education became the norm for a large share of American women and men, the deferral of adulthood began. People got married later, had children later, bought homes later, and started careers later”. Most people now prefer to live with their parents in order to save money for other luxuries without feeling ashamed. By doing this they also enjoy the freedom of making choices and exploring options without being burdened with the responsibility of home and family. In her article titled “The Rocky Road to Adulthood”, Marcia Mogelonsky quotes psychologist Ross E. Goldstein: “It may be time to redefine the meaning of being `grown-up.’ If we continue to apply the same standards used to identify the transition from childhood to adulthood among baby boomers, we may discover that Generation X will never grow up”. The boundary between adolescence and adulthood is fast fading as people as meeting the requirements for adulthood like education, job and family relatively late in life.

According to Carole Bonnet women are increasingly making their presence felt in all professional fields and the incidence of career breaks among women are gradually decreasing. In the coming generations, the gap between the retirement ages for men and women is expected to close in. in many countries the new generation is striving hard to eradicate gender bias, racism and class discrimination.

David Plotz examines the difference between Generation X and Y and feels that Generation Y is a more “cheerful” generation as it marks a significant decrease in social mal-functions like teenage pregnancy, racism, drug abuse, teenage crime and school drop-outs- all of which were rampant in the 80’s and 90’s. After the tumultuous years it comes as a pleasant surprise when teenagers take active interest in spirituality and social causes. In his article titled “The American Teenager”, he says: “the slump of the 90’s has been replaced by eternal boom; the cynical pessimists of Gen X have been replaced by cheery Y’s”. this is probably a consequence of increasing awareness and incorporation of sex- education and psychological counseling as part of the educational curriculum. Plotz also observes that the new generation does not resort to rebellion- rather they believe in “New Earnestness” and “New Familism”. The Y-ers are keener on attending church as opposed to the X-ers who believed in rebelling against any and every thing that they were expected and asked to do.

Even after noting the vast generation gap, it would be incorrect to say that two generations have little in common. Although there might be a vast difference between opinions, views and tastes, generations seldom fail to find common ground in order to co-exist in harmony. Minor adjustments and willingness to be open-minded go a long way in bridging the eternal “generation gap”.

The Kiss of Lead

Most women would not admit it but it is true. We do find our favorite lipstick irresistible and I’m not talking about the shade or the gloss here. Many women cannot stop themselves from flicking their tongues across their lips for the ‘fruity flavor’ which is the USP of most leading cosmetic brands. Little do they know that with every ‘helping’, they are taking in a dangerous amount of lead which can play havoc on their bodies in the long run owing to its well-known toxic effects. This becomes a bigger cause of concern when little girls try on their mama’s make-up and preen in front of the mirror and more so with pregnant and lactating mothers.

A recent study by a consumer group revealed that 61% of lipsticks contained significant amount of lead in spite of FDA specifying the ’safe limit’ to less than 0.02 ppm (parts per million ). This category includes reputed and ‘high-end’ brands like L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Christian Dior which contained 0.03-0.65 ppm of lead. The study was part of The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

On the outset, these numbers may seem harmless but one should bear it in mind that lead is not as easily expelled from the body as other toxins has the potential of accumulating in the tissues thus affecting health in the long run. Since women apply lip-sick several times a day and everyday, the amount of lead ingested consciously and sub-consciously can be quite alarming. Exposure to lead and its compounds can cause severe mental and physical disability and it is also known to cause infertility and miscarriage.

A few brands however, like Estee Lauder, Avon, Revlon and Wet and Wild and Body Shop have got the clean chit and were found to fall within the ’safe bracket’. So next time you go shopping for a lippie, make sure you do your homework beforehand for the sake of your and your children’s health.

Weight Loss (Sigh!)

So you have been dieting like crazy but the scales refuse to budge? Or you think you have exercised enough to afford a sinful chocolate pastry? Most of us substitute olive oil for butter, nut for candies and honey for sugar thinking that the healthy alteration will save us the extra calories. Though olive oil and nuts contain ‘good fats’ but there is one thing we fail to remember- these are still fats! Any kind of fat delivers the same amount of calories though there may be some that do not block arteries. Similarly, sweetening agents like honey and jaggery may be a preferred option over white processed sugar, the amount of calories remains the same. It is important to reduce the quantity of fats and sugars if desired weight loss effects are to be seen.

Apart from our diet, many other factors like our physical activity, sleep patterns, behaviors and biological characteristics go a long way in determining the efficacy of our weight loss and fitness programs. Vigorous physical work, depression, fatigue, stress and lack of consistency may cause us to eat more than our body’s requirement and more than makes up for all the “dieting”. Problems like thyroid misbalance, mood disorders, medications and insulin intake may also interfere with the body’s metabolic process and effect weight loss.

Therefore a balanced exercise program coupled with a careful and measured calorie intake is the mantra for effective weight loss.

20 August, 2008

Art Appreciation: Writing About Art

The first step in writing about art is the most important and also the most challenging- the choice of subject. The subject chosen should be accessible, within one’s scope of comprehension and make for interesting and inspirational writing at the same time. Further, while approaching a work, it is essential to analyze the context.

When you enter a museum, are you gripped by its aura and sanctity or do the hallways remind you of other places? Usually, museums are designed in such a manner so as to portray a work of art as “free” or sans any external influence and distractions. The walls are white, the environment bears pin-drop silence and the floors are carpeted so as to smother the sound of footsteps. Even after so much precaution, a work of art remains far from “free” because our analysis and appreciation of a piece (positive or negative) is based on individual perception which is governed by the world and our experiences outside the museum walls. Therefore, the purity and sanctity of art is bound to be adulterated. Therefore, the ideal gallery is one that removes all sources of interference and displays art in its actual context. Furthermore, once a subject is chosen, it should be looked at with a “blank” mind; i.e., you should curb your desire to relate it to personal memories and experiences because personalizing it would snatch away the intellectual facet and mystique and most likely, make readers lose interest in the essay. An effective way of creating an interesting an thoughtful essay is to chose a piece you like and try to create a “dialogue” between yourself and the painting. Try to express “what the painting wants to say”. Imbibe a sense of exploration while writing about art as it adds more dimensions and sustains the reader’s interest.

19 August, 2008

So You Want To Be A Writer? Here's How To Get Started...

So, you have followed your true calling and embraced the written word as a means for earning your livelihood. Here’s what to expect- total disorientation, rejection slips coming in as regular as your newspaper, un-replied mails in your mail-box, desperation to see your name in print as soon as possible…you get the picture. Nothing gives more pleasure than being published and being appreciated for your work but lets face it going on to become a earning professional writer from a published-a-couple-of-times-writer, is a long way. Don’t let the reality check dishearten you- setbacks are only an initial phenomenon and once you are out there rocking the writing market, there is no stopping you. Meanwhile, here are a few things to do that will help you sail through to your big-breakthrough.

• Read “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul”: sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? Believe me, it really perks up the mood when you read about the failures and rejections so many booker-prize type authors went through before they went to take on the world. It is bound to inspire, re-assure and motivate you to keep going. After all, that is what the Chicken Soup Series is for!

• Writer’s Block can plague you even before you become a “real” writer. There will be times when you just wouldn’t know what to write about. Use that time to read and surf the net. Go through features and articles in magazines and see if you can re-write the same topic with a different and individual perspective. Websites like Helium and eHow have a host of subjects that could be used as a prompt. Take your pick from the many and get started.

• Start small: it is not a wise idea to make your first submission to a leading international publication. Big magazines usually have their own panel of in-house writers and tend to entertain only widely published and established freelancers. Start off with a local or lesser known publication that pays a decent amount and use that publishing success as a stepping stone to building your place in the market. At times, it is all right to offer your work for free if the publication is well-known and has a wide readership. Magazines that do not pay for contribution, would usually agree to include your photograph with a by-line and contact information which can get you writing offers from other publications in the future. Remember- public exposure is as important as the quality of your writing.

• Splash yourself over the internet: Blog, self-publish and display a few versatile writing samples on community websites like EditRed. Apart from an honest critique of your work by fellow-writers, you get a platform to show-case your work to prospective publishers who may want to sign you up for a long-term writing contract. Once you have a considerable amount of credentials as a writer, you can consider building your own web-site for heightening your publicity quotient.

• Though print-magazines always stand as a more preferable option, it can take several months before your work actually appears even after acceptance. Payment can take even longer. For a writer who just started out, this can be rather disheartening and depressing. E-zines, on the other hand, are prompt with replies and since they are exclusively web-based, it does not take too long for your article to be published and you get paid sooner too. What’s more, it is easier to send across links to your family, friends and prospective publishers to flaunt your successes!

• Start easy: consider beginning with easy-to-write topics like “how-to’s” and general interest articles. Detailed features for niche publications may require a strong back-ground knowledge and extensive research on the topic. You could also write for publications that deal with your area of expertise or educational back-ground. Specialty magazines are usually higher paying than the rest but the general-interest ones have a larger audience.

• Set up a work-station: Have your own personal corner at home if a proper office is not feasible. Arrange your works into files and document all incoming and outgoing mail. Even on your laptop or PC, it helps to sort out articles based on their theme in separate folders so that you know where to look if you consider re-submitting an article to a new magazine.

• Be consistent: Once you submit and article, don’t waste your time waiting for a reply- simply forget about it and get started on a new one. Make it a point to make at least 2-5 submission everyday to different publications. This way you will considerably increase your chances of being published and ensure a steady influx of cheques.

• The importance of doing an advance market research cannot be emphasized enough. Know your publication well before making a query or a submission. Aimlessly mailing queries and articles to random addresses will lead you nowhere. Similarly, familiarize yourself with the publication BEFORE you write an article rather than writing first and then shopping for a market. It seldom works the other way around.

• Make a few investments- get yourself a copy of Writer’s market or a similar publications directory. We are usually familiar with popular publications that we subscribe to or the ones we often come across at news-stands. There is a whole vast market waiting to be explored – literary magazines, newsletters, niche magazines- publications which are not highly publicized but have a decent distribution.

• If you are working on short-stories or novels and find yourself running short of creative ideas and plots, try reminiscing about an incident from your own life or from someone you know and weave a story around it. If you wake up one morning and still remember a dream vaguely- pen it down immediately! Dreams can provide you with the most unusual and highly creative ideas for romantic and science fiction. Just so that you know- the best stories were born out of random dreams. So take them as a message from God!

• Last but not the least, originality and individuality are the two aspects that will help you build a reputation among publishers. Strike a balance between what you want to write and what the publishers want you to submit. Avoid churning out run-of-the-mill articles that have been done to death before. Novelty and innovation always earn their due. Happy writing!

Writing for Business

• Although freelance writing has not yet gained popularity at par with mainstream journalism, it has definitely grown from writing a couple of hand written articles every now and then to a booming online business which is providing opportunities to many people around the world who find it an extremely rewarding and satisfying field to be in.

• Good writers treat writing as serious business and not just an extended hobby. The competition is as fierce and the professionalism is as intense as in any other job. Various kinds writing courses are now mushrooming all over which help writers to polish their skills and learn the nuances of writing as a serious profession.

• For the sake of convenience, professional writing can be divided into various sub-types like creative writing, literary writing, academic writing and technical writing. A freelance writer may choose to explore all of these in the course of his/her career or may chose to stick to one particular area of writing and specialize in it.

• Business writing is one such sub-category which differs from all others in many aspects. As opposed to the lofty expressions in literary writing and the explanatory tone in academic writing; Writing for business demands precision, concision and economy of words. This involves writing letters, reports, official documents, resumes, memos, proposals, covering letters etc. Since the scope of such writing is strictly professional, the style should be ultra-formal, neat and follow certain rules. For example; “u r 2 gud” may be fine if you are chatting with a friend but if it is a part of a business letter, it could cost you your professional reputation and even your job. Business writing cannot afford leisurely use of words and a beating-around-the-bush style. After a brief formal pleasantry, the opening line should quickly introduce the subject and narrow it down to the point that is to be conveyed. The use of words and sentence structure should be carefully calculated to achieve the desired effect. If the message it too long, it would be preferable to arrange it in bulleted points instead of paragraphs.

• In a way, business writing is actually the kind of writing we learn in school- remember how our teachers insisted that a letter should begin with a “Dear/Respected So-and-So” rather than a “Hey” or without a acknowledgement at all and be signed off with a “yours sincerely/faithfully” instead of “Hugs” and “Cheers”? Well, high school education does come in handy at some point in life!

• Since business writing is earning its importance with the fast growth of the corporate sector, so is the trend of business writing courses. In today’s competitive scenario, a self-written resume (however good it may be) is simply not enough to attract a prospective employer’s attention until it is peppered with a professional touch. Writers are making full use (and money) out of this new opportunity by specializing in this particular field.

• Many regular and online courses are available for writers who want to branch into the field of professional writing. Syracuse University and University of North Carolina offer undergraduate distance learning programs on composition and work-place writing which can be studied online. In addition to that, details of many more specialized business writing courses can be obtained from the PrimeLearning.com website. Gotham Writer’s Workshop, CBT Direct and Corpedia are other acclaimed schools that offer a range of online courses related to business writing.

• The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue is the Bible for professional business writers. The lab offers classes and courses on correct grammar and vocabulary usage, guidelines for writing a good thesis, and tips on avoiding plagiarism. Students and writers, especially academic writers can find resources on different academic formats like MLA, APA, Chicago and Harvard for formatting and referencing academic papers. Most academic assistance websites ask writers to refer to OWL guidelines to improve upon the quality of their work. There is also a tutorial on “Writing the Basic Business Letter” and “Developing an Outline” on the website.

• Apart from an endless number and variety of online courses, the internet is an untapped resource tool for writers. A smart online search will provide thousands of job opportunities (full time/part time/freelance) from all over the world. Owing to the growing needs of clients and professionals from all fields, there is enough opportunity for all business writers to keep their kitty full of assignments. Therefore, the internet is a great “earning and learning” source for writers.

16 August, 2008

On Fashion and the Unthinking Herd

What is fashion anyway? Who decides what is "in" and what is "out"? Just because a few fashion gurus (an ill-deserved title) announce that skinny jeans and balloon dresses are in, does that mean all and sundry have to squeeze their humongous butts into the former and accentuate the uncomfortable bulge with the latter? .You browse through random stuff in a clothes store and an over enthusiastic salesman thrusts an ugly outfit in your face saying "Maydum, ye bahot chala hua hai". For goodness sake, I am precisely not looking for "chala hua" stuff!

The Delhites (by and large) deserve a prize for the most bizarre dressing sense.It is not uncommon to spot PYT's dodging one puddle after another in stilettos (psst..I even saw a couple of them walking the streets in knee-high suede boots...gasp!). Another blood curdling trends would be black and gold combos when the sun is shining bright after a short drizzle (we all know the feeling). I felt seriously out of place and "without it" in my man-shorts, flip flops and a ganji.

Do skinny jeans and boots make any sense at all when most regions in India are sultry and freakin' hot? The same goes for synthetic tights. Does fashion (I still fail to understand the term) have to take undisputed precedence over comfort and practicality all the time? Most of know deep down inside that balloon tops and dresses do absolutely nothing for an average Indian woman's posterior Nevertheless, these sell like hot cakes. The trendy ones often ask "How can you wear Crocs? They look downright hideous!". Well, they work for me- just like I love all hideous things like iguanas, frogs, pythons and ogres, I love Crocs too. Moreover, they spare me a lot of trouble in the rainy season- they're clean, dry easily, don't leave uneven tan marks behind and they kinda look funky! In case you are already wondering- the company has NOT paid me to promote or blog about their product. This one comes straight from the heart.

More on this later...I'm just trying to compile a few fashion faux pas pics to make this post more chromatic.

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na: Movie Review

Amir Khan seems to be spinning more gold than Rumpelskiltskin. He has been dishing out one delightful movie after another- Lagaan, Taare Zameen Par and now Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Let us call it JTYJN for the sake of convenience.
One would expect JTYJN to be “just another mushy college romance” – it is that and much more. It is the original treatment of the beaten-to-death plot that makes this movie so refreshingly different. Along with a great feel-good movie, Amir gives Bollywood a new chocolate boy - his nephew, Imran Khan.
What is the movie about?
Well, obviously it’s about friendship and love! Though JTYJN does not have a “plot” or “story” to talk about, it manages to delight purely through near-flawless direction and marvelously etched characters.
The story is about Jai (Imran Khan) and Aditi (Genalia) who are “best friends” in college. The narrative takes us through their journey from friendship to love and the grand realization of the same (which in this case, takes a tad longer than usual). Even the supporting cast deserves a pat on the back for laudable performances and comic timing. Ratna Pathak Shah, Paresh Rawal, Arbaaz and Sohail Khan appear sporadically but do not seem wasted in respect to the larger picture. Each cameo has something valuable to contribute to the narrative. Nassiruddin Shah hangs around in a photo-frame hung on the wall but steals the show with his powerful screen presence and performance (as usual!)
The Verdict:
Abbas Tyrewala has executed the script with sheer brilliance and simplicity. He steers away from the mould of a typical commercial bollywood flick without losing out on the mass appeal. Imran does exceptionally well as a debutant and shows lot of promise. Genelia glides through her complex character effortlessly and makes you wonder why an actress like her is so under-rated. Both look convincing in their “average college goer” look with no over-the-top styling, designer labels and snazzy cars. A.R. Rehman’s music in the film is fresh and youthful- the first half seems to have too many songs but they really don’t irk you. “Pappu can’t dance” and “Kabhi Kabhi” are catchy and linger on long after you have walked out of the theatres.
In all, the movie comes across as a light, enjoyable, clean romantic comedy. JTYJN is packed with wit, humor (not the loud, slapstick kind) and excellent performances. It makes you smile, laugh and want to fall in love. Though it has nothing new on board, you simply must watch it because it is fun and it is different!
I would give it a ****1/2

Bachna Ae Haseeno: Movie Review

After a long string of damp squibs, Yash Raj Films seems to have arrived yet again with “Bachna Ae Haseeno”- a much needed break for the Kapoor Kid after Saawariya left him black and blue (quite literally)!

What is it about?

Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) is the quintessential “wrong kind of guy”- the one who charms the wits out of girls, sweeps them of their feet and leaves them heartbroken and weeping. The story traces his journey through youth and his growth as a human being. From a girl-thirsty high school pass out, he graduates to a mature software engineer. His relationships with three girls at different stages in life teach him what love, life and emotions are all about.

The Story (no spoilers):

The first few scenes of the movies are reminiscent of the DDLJ era- boy and girl meeting on a train with the pretty Swiss Alps fleeting in the backdrop, the girl missing the train and being left alone with the “hero”- who is incidentally called “Raj”. Mahi (Minisha Lamba) is a dreamy, romantic girl from Amritsar who thrives on a Mills and Boons kind of idealistic romance. A hardcore DDLJ fan, she is on a lookout for her “Raj” who would serenade her with a mandolin (remember “that tune”?) and mouth sweet- nothings into her ears. She gets a “Raj” of course, but does he actually fit the bill?

Raadhika (Bipasha Basu) is a wannabe actress who is ambitious, independent and “modern”- like some people would like to put it. Like most girls however, she gives top priority to love, marriage, home and companionship. She and Raj share a beautiful live-in relationship in a Mumbai apartment. All goes well till Raj gets a transfer to Sydney and Raadhika comes up with a brilliant idea of having a court marriage before “they” move to Sydney as Mr. and Mrs.

Raj meets Gayatri (Deepika Padukone) in Sydney- a sassy, intelligent and fiercely independent girl who attends a B-school during the day and drives a taxi by night in order to fund her education. Raj falls head-over-heels with her but a sudden turn of events changes his life forever. How he goes about cleaning up the mess he left behind and setting things right is what the movie is about.

The Movie

Shot at exotic locales from all over the world, the movie has some really brilliant performances by the lead actors though Ranbir Kapoor and Minisha Lamba are exceptional. The characters are easily identifiable- atleast for the urban youth. Most of us would agree to have passed through similar stages in life. The song and dance routines though a wee bit in excess are engaging and take the narrative forward- the choreography is amazing too. The chic clothes, styling and background score make the scenes vibrant, youthful, fresh and aesthetically appealing. Despite its feel-good appeal, the movie leaves you with a thought to ruminate on. The humor does not look forced or slapstick though it has a few “toilet-jokes” cracked in between. Like a typical Yash Raj movie, this one is high on candy floss and cheesy dialogues. If these are not for you, you may give it a skip. Overall, Bachna Ae Haseeno is likely to be appreciated by the classes and the masses alike.

Viewer’s Rating: ****1/2

09 August, 2008

When Affection Assumes Gastronomical Proportions

Affection is often synonymous with calorie laden food in Indian culture. In a country where a sizable portion of the population is undernourished, the chubby kids of seemingly opulent households are forcibly over-fed to bear testimony to the "khaata-peeta" nature of the family. Obesity and health-issues are of course secondary issues and mostly dont even feature on the list of priorities.

There have been multiple instances when well-meaning relatives have forced me to stuff myself with fried and sugary fare till my seams stretched to the limit. And I don't even bear a distant resemblance to someone who needs any more food!

Some hosts find it difficult (or rather impossible) to sit and chat with a guest without asking "What will you have now?" every couple of minutes. Little do they realize that there is only so much that an average homo sapien can ingest without upsetting the digestive system. Even if you politely decline (at the risk of offending the host), you are bombarded with irksome questions like "Are you on a diet?", "You don't look like you need to lose weight?", "Why is your diet so scanty?", "Did you not like it?", "Should I get you something else?" and so forth.

Although I fight hard to resist the temptation of blatantly telling them that this is by no means the first and the last time I'm having a meal and that if I eat any more, I'm going to throw up on their Italian sofa; I usually have to make do with a "No, thank you very much"- a phrase that apparently holds no meaning with kitchen-happy aunties.

Why does love have to clog arteries, induce heartburn, make you fart like there is no tomorrow and leave you feeling sick for the next one week? Why can people not hand out a customary glass of beverage with some cookies and chill? Does "spending quality time" and "catching up" have to translate into "binging" and "over-feeding"?

If you have a smart way of dealing with this particular brand of agony, I would be glad to hear from you.

08 August, 2008

The Thing About Indian Railway Crossings

I have yet to meet an Indian who does not mind waiting at railway crossings till the train passes. While the four-wheeler drivers have little choice but to pass time with music or a long pending phone call, the two-wheel drivers (read cyclists and scooterists)almost always try to slink from beneath the barriers to cross over to the other side.

Moreover, if something is big in India, it is only bigger in Punjab. Of all the times when I have cringed at people risking their safety to save a few minutes (even when they have nothing substantial waiting for them at the other side), this one surely takes the cake!