Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's A Deal!

Two very, very good friends of mine hooked up today. Yes, to each other. And no, they are not of the same sex. Not right now, any way.

Although I am committed- happily- for almost four years now, I find the proces of two people getting together no less mystifying than any of the skeptics. I mean, taking the two aforementioned people as a case study (yes, you can take me out of a B-School, but you can't take the B-School out of me), I and the rest of the world were waiting with bated breath for about six months now for these two to FINALLY get together and give us the inevitable treat. Seriously, if you thought waiting ten years for Ross and Rachel to get together was a test of patience, wait till you see these two!

This situation is a very clear reflection of what happened with me- when I was discovering the joys and the initial highs of love four years ago (the lows would come later, and, honestly, I wouldn't miss them for the world: you can't have a better test for a relationship), everybody around me too as waiting for us to wake up and start going around. I always thought that this is a very interesting situation- isn't it weird how, when it's someone else's life, solutions and answers and paths are so spectacularly clear to all of us, and yet, when it comes to our own lives, we get miraculously enveloped in a fog, and take an astonishingly long time weighing out the nitty-gritties?

And while we are at it, why is it 'nitty-gritties', and not 'nitties-gritties'? Never mind. I digress.

I think, as people, we are shockingly lacking in objectivity. That, above religion, fraternity, love and greed is what unites us as humans- our total and absolute lack of objectivity. I have always thought that as one looks at someone else's life, all he sees are two adjacent rectangles, one black, one white, only separated by a very thin line. It is only as we get closer, that that line becomes wider and wider, until we realise that is an equally large rectangle made entirely of grey. And that is why, when it is our life we are thinking about, we understand the complexity of situations as we can appreciate life's grey-ness. Otherwise, of course, as far as we are concerned, everything is black and white- so why is it taking them SOOO long to hook up?

It is also interesting to see how similar the process of a business deal is to our thoughts when we are considering someone for a relationship. After all, that is also no less than a deal. I mean, think about it:

  • You take an equally long time, sometimes more
  • There are various rounds of deliberations
  • A million negotiations ("okay, fine, I'll try and remember your birthday if you let me go out for drinks with my friends")
  • Numerous different reports are released to the public from numerous different sources ("She told me nothing is official!", "But he said everything is!")
  • PR plays a paramount role ("Listen, I think he is a really nice guy. You should consider him more seriously")
  • When the two concerned parties finally "sign on the dotted line", there are both official statements released, and a big, joyous celebration.
  • The share prices of both parties increase manifold- the guy suddenly seems safer and nicer, the girl seems more desirable (we guys have an inexplicable tendency to suddenly find someone else's property more desirable- psychiatrist call it an offshoot of the forbidden apple theory; I believe it is simply a case of "There must be something he saw which we missed!").

Yes, there goes the MBA in me talking. Management, you see, is a lifelong occupation.

But then, so is love. And this one goes out to everyone who has ever looked at someone sitting next to them and thought, "hey- my interest rate in you is rocketing upwards. How about a merger?"

Dear SCD and Roy- here's to you both.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Running through a few other blogs, I noticed that almost everyone has entries listing “Top Ten _________________________” where the author has filled in the blank according to the area of his/her expertise. Naturally, I got very jealous, and decided to punch back. I have always argued that nothing is more important in a film than the note on which it begins, and the note on which it ends. The former builds up expectations and hooks you to the happenings, and the latter makes sure that the film stays with you after you have left the theatre. At least, that’s what should happen in an ideal world, with ideal films. However, most films turn out to be disappointments on both fronts. May be someday I will compile a list of great beginnings. For now, here is a list of the best endings in Hindi Cinema that I could think of.

10. Don

Forget, for a moment, all those discussions about how much better AB’s version was, or how this new ending creates holes in the plot. Just ask yourself this- could you, in a million years, ever see it coming? I can still hear the audience whistling and clapping for SRK at the denouement. That is a testament to his stardom. And to Farhan Akhtar’s ingenuity and guts.

9. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

The thing with love stories is, from the moment you the posters, you know how its going to end. This is, after all, Bollywood. That is why, inspite of predictability, when an ending to a love story as you clapping, you know you have seen something special. Aditya Chopra knew one thing, and that was abundantly clear: it’s not what you do, but how you do it. And that is why, an extremely predictable, simple boy-meets-girl tale became the longest running hindi film of all time: by virtue of HOW the story was told. Aggression, angst, passion, a fight, and a wonderful, wordless exchange between SRK and the late Amrish Puri: what an ending.

8. Khoya Khoya Chand

Sudhir Mishra does not make his films for entertainment. However, if you ever wanted two diametrically opposite insights into the film industry of the days one by, never look further than Om Shanti Om and this film. Although this sensitve, moody and character-centric film pales in comparison to Mishra’s masterpiece Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (which too had a haunting, painful end) KKC is memorable for the courage he showed in coming up with an ending few would appreciate- or, for that matter, understand. By the time the ending arrived, most of the people I was watching the film with had stopped caring what happened to the alcoholic actress or the egoistic writer. However, if you were still connected to the film and characters, you would realise that few films end on a higher note (in the middle of the song ‘Thirak Thirak’, Soha Ali Khan suddenly stumbles and everyone, fearing the worst, comes rushing to the rescue of this dying actress- only to be told that her paayal had broken. Suddenly, sunlight breaks through and everyone starts smiling). And Mr Mishra- kudos for the last shot.

7. Kabhi Kabhie

Ignore the unnecessary fire-in-the-forest chase sequence at the end. And concentrate on only the real ending to the superbly crafted story: the magnificent dinner party scene where Amitabh Bachchan and Rakhee confront their age-old simmering feelings and Shashi Kapoor discovers their relationship. Brilliantly written, masterfully executed, and pitch-perfect acting. AB played the hurt lover with a dignity no one has ever brought to the character again, and Shashi Kapoor turned in his career best performance in a wonderful role. “Kabhi kabhie mere dil mein… Something something… Aata hai…” Wow.

6. 1947 Earth

For a man who tries to challenge himself with every performance, Aamir Khan has not yet tired of playing the roguish charmer. He may not have overgrown his welcome, but I am waiting for him to remind himself of what he is capable of. If he needs help, he can always pop in this DVD. Just observing the way his eyes pierce the screen when he watches Nandita Das being dragged away, or the intensity with which he looks at the little girl when he asks for Das’ whereabouts, is a testament to the reservoir of talent he is.

5. Satya (Company also)

Seriously- can you imagine a better, more apt ending? What better punishment for killing so many people than to prove so repulsive to the woman you love that she refuses to open the door while the police guns you down? Pure, great cinema- at once stunningly apt, as well as hauntingly tragic. Genius. (RGV would only rival this in his pseudo-sequel Company, where, bravely, brilliantly, he had a then unknown Vijay Raaz shoot Ajay Devgan just when a happily-ever-after ending was finally in sight.)

4. Johnny Gaddar

I cannot think of- for the lack of a better word- a cooler ending than this. I mean, finally we had a movie where there was no discussion on the hero sinning and getting just punishment- finally we had a hero who had no qualms about killing people for money, and we watched him, enthralled, engaged, and extremely on his side. And just when he seemed to have overcome all the obstacles on his path, just when everything was all over- happily- Mr Raghavan moved the floor from under our feet. We could almost feel his cheeky grin at the end.

3. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron

It is at times difficult to remember that there were a couple of other scenes after the side-splitting ‘Mahabharat’ scene. However, Kundan Shah reserved the biggest kick for the final scene of his masterpiece: Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Vaswani, in prison uniforms, walking amongst the crowds, with ‘Hum Honge Kaamyab’ playing in the background. At that moment, irony had a new name.

2. Sadma

Oh man. Oh man oh man oh man. This is an ending that kept me awake at nights. I kicked myself, saw the film three-four times, tried to believe it- to no avail. There’s never been a character on the Hindi screen I have felt sorrier for, and Kamal Hassan made this role his own. Perhaps the most ‘logical’ ending on this list, it is also the most profoundly moving and tragic.

1. Anand

Do I even need to start on this? Who among us has not spent the entire length of this movie praying that some miracle saves Anand? Who among us has not felt an inexplicable loss shared by all the characters in this film at Anand’s death? Who among us has not mirrored Amitabh ‘Babumoshai’ Bachchan’s initial exasperation and subsequent warmth for this man? Who among us has not screamed with Bachchan at Anand’s dead body, knowing that we are too helpless to do anything? And which of us has not felt those goosebumps rising when Rajesh Khanna’s voice calls out on the tape recorder, teasing, smiling, life-affirming? Life, indeed, should be big, and not long, Mr Mukherjee. You proved it.

Runners Up:
· Dil Chahta Hai (Oh, the joy of long lost friend re-uniting)
· Dil Se (I challenge you to find a more apt and effective ending to this story)
· Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (I have never felt so sad for Salman- but Mr Bhansali pulled it off with a flourish)
· Nayagan (Imagine- the court releases you, but the deeds of your past come back…)
· Main Hoon Na (for the sheer joie-de-vivre with which it ends in the song “Yeh Fizayen”)