Saturday, November 24, 2007

Calvin and Hobbes - A Comic Strip Appreciation class

I know it bores people to pay much attention to something ‘trivial’ as comic strips. But why is Calvin and Hobbes so much better than the rest of the comic strips out there.

Let us take a look at the above Calvin and Hobbes Strip and the Garfield strip.

If you look at the Calvin and Hobbes strip, you notice that there is actually nothing funny in this. The Garfield strip on the other hand works on a particular step by step process.

All the regular comic strip follow a particular routine so to speak:

1) Setting (here it is Garfield’s owner calling him)

2) Buildup (the stress given to the calling becoming higher)

3) More buildup. (Same as above)

4) Final buildup. (Maximum stress given to the call)

5) Catchline. (Meow)

If you look at the Calvin and Hobbes strip, there are certain things that sets it apart; let me try highlighting it here:

1) Notice the size of the panels. It is never the same size throughout. Bill Watterson (author of Calvin and Hobbes) sets the frames of his strip according to the scene which he is trying to depict. Few frames in consideration here will be:

a. Last frame in the second row. Here Calvin is deeply observing Hobbes sleeping. The frame depicted here is like a camera focusing tightly on the scene. It shows how cuddly Hobbes is when he is sleeping, and also shows the bright face of Calvin who is happy to have a friend like Hobbes.

b. Second ‘frame’ last row. Actually there is no frame for this strip. Within the darkness around Calvin and Hobbes, there is the light that is their friendship. This is like a picture postcard kind of scene and Bill Watterson do not want to put a frame around it to take the life out of it.

2) Now the story:

a. Actually there is no story: Calvin is scared of dark, but hes happy hes got Hobbes around; so, tell us something new.

b. It is the way Bill Watterson puts it across to the reader. He just builds the story up (about Calvin’s fear) and puts the story slowly to rest (about his happiness with Hobbes) and what is like a Grandmother’s fairy tale kind of climax of ‘and they lived happily ever after’. All problems in the world has a solution; and its almost always a simple one.

c. If you have read enough of Calvin and Hobbes to have understood the personality of each character, you will feel a warmth when Calvin says ‘Good ol’ Hobbes. What a friend.’ And he says it when Hobbes is actually not doing anything; hes sleeping remember. This just shows how beautiful true friendship can be.

I hope I did not bore you with all the details, but it really shows why grownups (many of them) are such huge fans of Calvin and Hobbes.

Hail, Bill Watterson, because he did something beautiful for everyday of his life from November 18, 1985 to December 31, 1995.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saawariya - Poetry @ 24fps

I swear all you Sanjay Leela Bhansali haters out there, I went in to watch this movie wanting to hate it. It was a desperate choice as I did not get tickets to Om Shanti Om. Initially I preferred not to watch any movie if the only option available to me was Saawariya. God deals terrible hands sometimes, and then with the same hand you hit royal flush. Well if not a royal flush, Saawariya turned out to be quite a nice hand dealt by the one above (movie projectionist).

I watched Black after hearing a lot of rave reviews about it; the performances, music and what not. I was so disappointed with the movie that I painted my TV white to get the bad taste out of myself. Black was where the magnificence of Sanjay Leela Bhansali was totally uncalled for. Sanjay Leela Bhansali directing Black was more or less like a wedding coordinator handling a funeral ceremony. It was grim and dark and brooding, but it was also fantastical, if for the lighting, the sets, the costumes and the snow that falls from the sky, just like that.

With Saawariya, Sanjay Leela Bhansali does what he did so marvelously with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas, though the latter was a wee bit over the top what with each character mouthing their 1001 definitions of love. Saawariya is a true blue fable, as Gulabji (Rani Mukherjee) needlessly inform us at the onset of the movie. Bhansali takes over the reigns from there and pulls us through this wonderful Neverland (which in its full 'spectacular' view appears like an oil painting) with characters that are all white; yes, there is nothing called a black or gray in any of his characters. They are all angels sans wings.

Initially, when I read about the movie, I thought I would feel seriously claustrophobic with his flamboyant sets eclipsing out a real world that exists somewhere out there. But Bhansali's tone of blues and greens are so magnificent, I felt like strangling someone when the door was opened to let the light in as soon as the end credits started rolling. The sets are really breathtaking and have been done with intricate precision as to the swooping curls on the walls or the staccato footpath or even the design on a lamp shade. I wonder why people criticise Sanjay Leela Bhansali of being opulent. If 30 Crores can be put into use for creating this, I really don't mind. That money in my opinion can be seen in every picture perfect frame of this movie. When the DVD of the movie is out, freeze the frame on Raj's (Ranbir Kapoor) guitar and you would know why.

All great works of art can seldom be appreciated without a human angle to the whole proceeding. The mega debutantes of the year despite my earnest attempts, conquered my heart. How can your heart not melt when Sakina (Sonam Kapoor) laughs out loud? Or Raj, when he hides hard realities from Zohra Sehgal (I really didnt get her name, it went something like Liliput or Lily Pup) over a phone conversation, his voice is filled with excitement and ticklish joy, but his face and eyes just shouts at us the despair and the frustration inside him at that moment. Rani Mukherjee with the over-the-top sensuality of a street walker is again beautiful, and her eyes are so magnetic that I wish I got stuck to the screen during a closeup. The only creaky wheel in this ride might be Salman Khan. No offence to Salman Khan and his fans or anything, he was good, but I just couldn't see full-of-life Sakina falling for the kohl-eyed terminator-styled dialogue delivering Imaan. I would have appreciated if Sakina falls head over heels or long strands of hair over even more long strands of hair in love with someone who was a bit more full of life; the least he could have done to justify it maybe to, ahem, smile? Maybe I am asking too much, maybe opposites attract, maybe I just don't know the world enough.

The music of Saawariya is beautiful in its own self, but Sanjay Leela Bhansali transforms them into visuals so serene and vivacious he just tugs your heart with them. There is a scene in the beautiful 'Jaan-E-Jaan' when Raj extends his hand to Sakina. Sakina pulls herself back just as the song drains itself out of color and the frame pulls back to show the distance between the 'lovers'. The outlandish romantic that I am, I could feel the pining Raj feels inside. The whole movie is like life choreographed to perfection. I never knew jumping across or around or on puddles could ever be made into a romantic jig. Though I must tell you, 'Jab Se Tere Naina' with all the flailings of the towel, made me realise why there are neon signs and not any person for Raj's neighbours. From the cinematic angle its a notch below eroticism, though I cannot really imagine what the neighbour's angle might have shown.

I dont force anyone on their choice of movies, and for a whole lot of us who have been fed Dhol, Dhamaal and Heyy Babyy for a long time, getting to savour such a movie might be rather difficult, as was apparent with the out-loud proclamations some of the others in the theater had at the end of the movie. But this is one time I wished people would acquire a taste for slow movies rather than at-your face comedy or next-plot-twist-here kind of screenplay. Alas, the humanity.

Oh, there is someone that I want to emphasize on a little more. I had just given her about 5 words in this whole writing, but there is one character who I loved so much I am willing to give my life for her, and that is the absolutely fantastic Zohra Sehgal. She is such a bundle of wrinkled up joy that you just wish you could hug her. In one scene, Raj echoed what was shouting inside my mind from the first time Zohra Sehgal appeared on screen in the movie.
Zohra Sehgal... 'WILL YOU MARRY ME?'

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bangalore's Hottest Selling Condom

People who have come here looking for information on how to get condoms round the clock, the answer is Sagar Apollo 24 Hour clinic in Indiranagar. The one opposite Jyoti Nivas college, though it still has a board which says 24 hours, its more like 14 hours. Someone told me they had installed a condom vending machine and it got vandalled. Thats the end of post for condom seekers; the rest of the pleasure seekers (corny) please continue reading.

Before I set out describing the attributes of Bangalore's hottest selling condom, let me protect my blog first, it needs this condom; and badly.

There, that should keep it safe for my blog. I think it also would have answered the hottest selling condoms part.

The biggest buyers for this condom seems to be Garuda Mall. They have a hundred of these stuck or hung on the huge glass panes of the mall lest some Dick tries to send one through (stone).

I mean, seriously, what does this flag actually signify? You stick it outside your building, which might even be Bangalore's largest showroom for lingerie and its like an unwritten treaty which says 'have flag wont flog'.

Before writing this post, I had serious notions if I am upsetting people's sentiments by writing something like this. If you do have a bruise or two thanks to this post, I ask you to look around Bangalore city. Come Kannada Rajyotsava, come Diwali, come Rajkumar's birthday these flags sells like hot cakes; or condoms. To ensure that the money they have invested on their building is safe from the fiery red and orange anger of anything non Kannada.

The way this flag is being used in Bangalore is more or morer like a soldier trying to hide under his coutry's flag fearing a wave of rounds fired at him.

It can be seen everywhere in Bangalore. From outside the IT glasshouses that dot the Bangalore landscape to the posh clubs like Fuga. It is the insurance policy that gives the best for your money, and which also seems to work like a charm. I can almost picture big shots deciding on opening malls discussing how to display the flag outside their building. Should it be hundreds of small ones which will be visible from all around, or should it be one big tribute in the form of a flag post and the flag, which shouts 'we have a place for you, and you let us be in peace'.

I have a very realistic fear that if at all the Americans decide that, well we have enough of money put into Bangalore, lets buy the whole place, they would come dressed in Orange and Red. And well, comeon, they cant harm us. See they are wearing the outlandish combination of Orange and Red. That means they support us, even though they look like the offspring Mars had with Jupiter during one of their Jamaica nights of passion.

I dont know if many people read my blog, but I do know that not many people read my blog. If at all you happen to come across this blog and feel that I have insulted you in more ways than one, accept this apology. If that doesn't work and you are still pissed, heres the rubber; again, just to 'rub' it in.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Nirvana.. I've fulfilled them all...

I have been madly promoting a few movies which i thought would be a welcome change to the way Hindi cinema has been lately. After having Heyy Babyy (or whatever its newmerawlowgicalli correct name might be), Dhol, Dhamaal and the many other sad excuses for comedy, we had in a very short span of time Loins of Punjab Presents, Johnny Gaddar, Manorama- Six Feet Under, No Smoking and Jab We Met. Of all this I sinned twice, and one I had missed completely. But I am dead sure that I will getting the DVD of all these because all of them are good for repeat views.

So how do I start? Let me tick the first one off. No Smoking.
Anurag Kashyap, the man behind Black Friday; the man behind Paanch which thanks to a very culture rooted stand never saw the day lights, or rather the darkness of an Indian cinema hall. I was waiting for No Smoking to hit the screens for a long long time. First day, 7:30 show, straight out of office and into PVR; I hit No Smoking. Monday morning, all ready for the gruelling work ahead, just had my breakfast, idling with a smoke in my office smoking zone, No Smoking hit me; and I still havent gotten over it. No Smoking is a haze. Its twisted and dark like a jalebi made of tar; and should i say it will be equally sticky. It stuck to my mind, and I am sure that no matter how much you booed at this cinema, how much you cribbed that your cut of salary which you have given to PVR to watch this movie, this movie is not going to leave you for sometime. Somewhere in your deepest thoughts I am sure this movie will make you think, now what the four-letter-word was that. I am not here to decipher No Smoking or give a review of it, but its a terrific watch; at least for me it was. My next nirvana will be a more or less literal one. I want to go grass and hit the theater and watch No Smoking. For people with similar interests (grass) i suggest you do the same. Dope up and hit the theater and watch it. This is the trippiest Indian movie ever. End of story.

Next up, is Johhny Gaddar. And this is where I sinned. I have sold myself to the system. How I managed to do that and about the movie. Maybe in another post. Coming Soon...