Monday, May 27, 2013


I'm sorry but one of the great things about having watched a lousy film is catching up with all the snark afterwards. It's palate-cleansing and I'm not sure why I'm apologising.

Yes, this is still about the Star Trek film.

On to the Exhibits:

1. We need FAQs, right? Of course we do; it's only...logical.
And why did Spock have to go with the bomb to set it off? Are you telling me in the 23rd century that people don’t have a way to detonate bombs remotely? That’s stupid.

Well —

And why the fuck is the Enterprise just carrying around a cold fusion suitcase bomb anyways?

Look, you’re getting very upset, and this is just the first scene of the movie.


Why was Khan floating in space?

Actually, this Khan has the same origin as the original Khan; he’s a genetically engineered warrior, created for the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s. He ruled part of Asia befor —

Wait, what? The Eugenics Wars of the 1990s?


We didn’t have any Eugenics Wars in the 1990s, unless you count Dawson’s Creek.

Yeah, but Gene Roddenberry didn’t know that when he created Khan in 1967.

But we do, because it’s 2013.

But it’s canon! Don’t you like canon?

I like it when it doesn’t get stupid. And why the hell would Abrams and crew stick to Khan’s origin timeline, even though it makes zero sense, but also suddenly change him to a white dude? That’s cherry-picking the stupidest parts of canon and non-canon!

I don’t know. I think it’s nice that in this day and age, a white male can still be cast as an Indian played by a Mexican. White men really have come a long way!


Ideally, this should be the point where we whiz past Exhibit 2 to Exhibit 3 (or, I should just shift Exhibit 3 and make it Exhibit 2, but I won't), but let me build suspense the JJ Abrams way, okay? It might get me a job in Hollywood some day. So...

2. In which Josh Horowitz asks the writer of STiD, Damon Lindelof, some questions and many mails are exchanged.
From: Josh Horowitz
To: Damon Lindelof
Sent: Sat, May 11, 2013 2:58 pm


Here we go again. Thanks for subjecting yourself to my nerdy inquiries once again. {readcted because blahblah} Congratulations.

OK, down to the nitty gritty. I feel like I have to start with the biggest mystery/conversation that's surrounded the film from the get go. Why is Alice Eve in her underwear at one point? Oh and also, let's discuss your villain.

Yeah, I'm not waiting around for that re-run, but of course you guys have to go read.


Finally! Exhibit 3! The one you've I've been waiting for!

Via Aisha.


I think I may finally be done with this Star Trek.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Spaniard at Seven

You know that Calvin & Hobbes strip where he's trying his pathetic hand at doing push-ups and after three he starts to count what it feels like and not what it is? That's what seven years on this blog feels like - it feels like a round dozen or perhaps a baker's dozen.

My poor blog. If it had feelings, it would feel like an unwanted child [Richie Havens, 'Freedom’]. I can't even conjure up some fantastical number to describe the number of years it feels like since I began this blog? It has to be a paltry dozen?

Yes, but a Baker’s Dozen! Thirteen! That’s respectable? Life-altering even?

When I was 12, I wanted desperately to turn 13 as if that birthday was a Rubicon I would cross triumphantly into near-adulthood. Unsurprisingly, nothing happened. I am remembering those years because El Cid will be thirteen soon, and unlike me he doesn’t care one way or another. He’s a more evolved human being than I ever was.

Me, I was the kind of kid people write teen books for: poseur wannabe, confused as heck and both snobbish & desperately wanting to be as effortlessly settled in my own skin as my peer group appeared to be. It seemed to me then that when I turned thirteen, I would mysteriously understand everything in my world that seemed so mixed-up and incomprehensible.

Where I am today feels a little like how I felt then – a state of mind in which I think a year or a certain date will somehow transform my life and make clear my muddied molasses mind. Amber and waiting.

I should be reading poetry, philosophy; I should be watching my own mind. Instead I look for something I cannot find, in teen books. If I was really thirteen I know for certain I wouldn’t touch that shit with the hooked end of a twenty-foot crane. But now I read teen books compulsively, so many of them that I can’t remember who wrote them or what they were about. Details remain but mostly they’re poorly written attempts by adults who try to talk like the teens they no longer are and perhaps never were. When they get turned into movies based on the book, they’re, shockingly, even worse. Who would have thought a bad teen book would be better than the movie?

Why am I doing this to myself? It’s a sinkhole out of which I should be clawing myself out inch by inch. I think perhaps I am looking for a way in to my son’s mind which, truth be told, is nothing like the vocabulary-challenged blank slates that some writers think teenagers are.

 – Harsh. That was harsh, Space Bar.

– You think? Wait. Let me produce evidence.


You know what? I was going to produce evidence. I swear. I even took out the book and re-read passages of it but if a quick re-read wasn’t bad enough, the thought of typing up all the rubbish gave me the heebie-jeebies. So you’ll have to take my word for it that the last teen book I read was awful.

[Basically, a girl is made to kiss a boy she kind of likes but she kisses him against her will. Later, when they talk about it, he pretty much says to her that when girls say ‘no’ they mean ‘yes’. And though she tells him she doesn’t know what kind of girls he knows (a pretty lame response, but perhaps she was in shock? I would have been.) by the end of their – what was it? a date? It might have been – she’s swooning all over him again. And that’s just one small incident in a book filled with....gah! I can’t even talk about it.]

This is not to say that all of teen books are bad; they may not be Catcher in the Rye, but they fleetingly catch something real, the good ones. It’s just, I really ought to be doing other things with my time.

Like writing.


Which brings me to this blog.

I don’t know what to do with it any more. I keep it like a name I can’t imagine changing but when I say it out loud, it doesn’t feel like my name.

I guess it’ll be here, I will be here, providing poems and excerpts from books which people will come looking for at a later date. One day – perhaps by next year – it’ll have something to say for itself.

Perhaps this is a pre-adolescent and necessary moodiness.

But as always, however rubbish the contents of this blog and however capricious my responses, thank you for reading.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Celebrating a 100 years of....Talkies?

I hesitate to interrupt the beautiful silence here, but since I have had Thoughts after a long time and about cinema after an even longer time, I thought I should get let them out in case of system overload.


Indian cinema celebrated its centenary on 3rd May this year. What it marked was the centenary of the release of Dadasaheb Phalke's Raja Harischandra, which is as good a place as any to mark a beginning. Naturally, there have been special issues and programmes and things and they have been the usual mixed bag of celebration, nostalgia and some good writing.

In the middle of all this, there is Bombay Talkies. 

It is a compendium of four unlinked short films by four different directors and you can google anything you want to know about it. This post is about the state of my mind after watching it last night.

(There were aunties who came inlate - while the title song was on - and congratulated themselves for being on time. 'That is a matter of opinion,' I muttered under my breath but the auntie next to me was busy talking on her phone. During the interval, one of the said, 'How do they allow this kind of thing? Do you want to leave? We can leave if you want. It's up to you.' The phone aunty got up and left. The other one followed and tread on my toes while doing so.)

First off, general puzzlement: I know the Hindi film industry likes to pretend it's the only one around, even while they help themselves to story-and-plotlines from Telugu, Tamil and Korean films; but surely Bombay Talkies could have found directors who were not only mainstream/semi-mainstream Hindi film makers?

Also, Talkies. Someone needs to work on their titling skills, because as code it's inaccurate if somewhat efficient. Harischandra was silent and the studios were still some time in the future.

Thus my general discontent about the nature of this celebration on film: narrow, short-sighted and - for a celebration - minimally aware of its own history.

But the films themselves were fairly enjoyable, if uneven.

I was thinking about what the filmmakers were saying about Cinema-with-a-capital-C beyond the stories themselves, as they must have been because otherwise why bother to string four diploma-length films together, right?

So, in order of appearance:

Karan Johar: Karan Johar is such an insider that he doesn't even need to think about what cinema is. Because - isn't it obvious? - what he does is cinema and why is even a question? We celebrate a 100 years by making more of the kind of film that brought us upto this point.

If there's anything larger he's saying about cinema it is, possibly, that film music is cinema's umbilical cord and tells a kind of truth that transcends all the lies we tell ourselves and let our stories tell us.

(Yeah...that's farfetched. No it isn't. Yes it is. N- Whatever.)

That said, though he's no Wong Kar-Wai, his film had a few genuinely heart-stopping moments. Pity he let the last five minutes of his film slip away from him.

Dibakar Banerjee: There are big stories in small things. That's DB's definition of cinema. Or at least, his definition has sympathies with Ray's vision because he chose to film a Satyajit Ray story.

Zoya Akhtar: Tell 'em what they wanna hear. Hers is the least interesting and most cynically
blasé of the lot. 

Like Johar's film, hers is the work of an insider who is attempting to view the world of cinema through the eyes of an outsider or a misfit. But when you think of all the misfits and outsiders and deadbeats who made even mainstream Hindi cinema (never mind all the other kinds of cinema in whatever language) the memorable thing is is, it made me feel slightly ill to hear that what we need to do to make it is follow our dreams, nurture them in secret (and pray to Katrina Kaif dolls).

Anurag Kashyap: Cinema is misdirection and (a satisfying and necessary) illusion. Of the four, it is perhaps Kashyap who put any kind of thought at all into why he was a part of this exercise and for me that raised his film above the others.

It was clear that while KJ and ZA are one kind of filmmaker, DB and AK are another. These last two, being outsiders to the industry but who are beginning to slide their way in, are less concerned about the truth-telling and lie-nurturing nature of cinema. They don't care if cinema is about truth or lies; what they care about is, that whatever it is, it has the capacity to nourish small and real lives like any great art. 

And that is why we obssess about the movies even today, a 100 years on. Even when we download them carelessly onto our computers, and experience them as a solitary pleasure instead of communal festivity, cinema can attach us in precisely the same way it did a hundred years ago. And at least half of Bombay Talkies celebrates this.


Oh wait. I'm not done. I feel I must congratulate the Censor Board for this piece of cleverness.

[Apologies about picture quality. Bad phone camera and bad light.]


Wait. I'm still not done. 

I want sympathy and alcohol because I watched Star Trek Into Darkness. In IMAX 3D. The sight of Benedict Cumberbatch weeping in rage and sorrow over one half of an IMAX screen (in 3D!) still gives me nightmares. And I still have a half-crush on the man (at least, on his voice). 

Basically, JJ Abrams has watched [Spoiler Alert!] The Wrath of Khan and has scavenged dialogues wholesale over both his films in the reboot. That's not entirely a problem; what is, is that despite its cheesey sets and costumes, the earlier film was the better one. 

**Spoiler Alert**

Plus the racefail of having Cumberbatch play [the even more namefail] Khan Noonien Singh. (Seriously, Hollywood. Get your act together.) 

And he's So. Deadly. Serious. Gah!

The best part of the film for me was when Kirk is so frustrated with Spock that he expresses a desire, to Uhura, to yank Spock's bangs (not at all innuendously). 'I know he's your boyfriend,' Kirk says, 'but.' Uhura says she knows how Kirk feels. And then Kirk has this priceless dialogue:

"Wait. You guys are fighting??! Oh my God! I can't even imagine what that's like!"

To me that, and the scene with Kirk, Spock and Uhura in a pod, going to meet the Klingons, was worth the price of the ticket.