Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2012's must-watch contender

There’s something about Quentin Tarantino’s films that grows on you until you go wow. And then you wonder a bit about what really happened. After all, he’s one of those few directors who writes as brilliantly as he directs. His vision remains undiluted and it shows on the canvas. While he’s at it, he makes sure the entertainment factors don’t compromise themselves under the heavy burden of a message to be delivered. And this is precisely what he has done with Django Unchained.
Released with a few cuts in India, this period film has all the ingredients of a typical Tarantino venture. However, none of them are predictable and the pace is maintained throughout. The story beautifully weaves forward from a cunning yet affable bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) and his calculated eccentricities to a former slave (Jamie Foxx) and his quest to free his wife (Kerry Washington). Set to the south of Mason-Dixon line in an era where racism was the unwritten code of life, an unlikely friendship blossoms between the two protagonists. Both are quick with bullets, motivated, smart and possess colourful shades of humanity.
During their horseback journey together, they come across several characters — one more evil than the other — allowing humour and action to mingle wholeheartedly. To get what they want, a plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) has to be fooled as he technically owns the hero’s wife. But his Man Friday (Samuel L Jackson) won’t let that happen. At least not without a fight. No wonder there follows delightful rounds of mind games, witty dialogues and bloodshed. Speaking of which, blood spills like ketchup and the body count only keeps increasing. Obstacles, no matter how big they are, eventually bow down to gunshots
Intriguingly, racism shadows this marvelous piece of cinema from its very beginning to its end. But historical realities don’t deny the bare setting and that works in the writer-director’s favour. When you pitch a black gunslinger with a German ally against a Francophile American with a black attendant, the racial closure is basically neutral. Meanwhile, the haunting background score with timely cheerful songs contribute to the Western drama.
Speaking of performances, Waltz takes the cherry for his remarkable portrayal of someone who believes in goodness more than his skin. Foxx comes across as a sturdy sharpshooter who won’t leave anything to chance. Playing a villain for the first time in his career, DiCaprio is menacing while Jackson is equally brilliant. However, Washington’s role appears inconsistent. She switches from grief to euphoria like a baby.
The film could have finished quicker as the finale seems draggy. But then, it’s okay to let a filmmaker like Tarantino indulge a bit and let us wonder a bit longer.

PS: This review was published in MiD DAY, my first for an English language film. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tell me more

What happens to those kids in a classroom who aren't considered bright? What happens to the teachers who couldn't teach them right? What happens to darkness when there's too much light? What happens to life when you cease breathing? What happens to sharks when whales show off their might? What happens to peace when the planet grows tired? What happens to meteors when they don't fall on Russia? What happens to birds when they cease to fly? What happens to a broken heart when it fails to die? What happens to your smile when tears flood by? What happens to friendship when you don't have time? What happens to God when prayers are procrastinated? What happens to you when you pretend to be somebody else? What happens to us when we are separate? What happens to a great football club like Liverpool when it doesn't have a Bill Shankly in command? What happens to Manchester United when Alex Ferguson bids goodbye? What happens to blood when your body builds a dam against its flow? What happens to poetry when a poet doesn't know? What happens to a language when inferiority complex takes over? What happens to a train when it doesn't want to be lonely? What happens to waves when they kiss your feet? What happens to love when hatred is too thick? What happens to grass when concrete is the way to go? What happens to childhood when you don't want to grow? What happens to lust when puberty not only hits but also slaps you hard? What happens to souls when bodies are mating? What happens to company when three's a crowd? What happens to patience when hospitality is a virtue? What happens to Hobbes when Calvin quits his tripe? What happens to DiCaprio when Scorsese moves on? What happens to Craig when Bond has won? What happens to common sense when idiocy is in vogue? What happens to equality when rich are getting richer, poor are getting poorer and vellas are getting vellaer? What happens to style when fashion ramps? What happens to right when wrong is on Viagra? What happens to shit when something else happens? What happens to an economist when he's made the PM? What happens to Lampard when he's preferred over Torres? What happens to Australia when they are whitewashed by wogs? What happens to media when the standards fall due to gravity? What happens to our voice when it's unheard? What happens to truth when lies are stronger? What happens to the sky when the stars are shy? What happens to how when the question should have been why?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bottoms up

A lot CAN happen over a cup of coffee. Well, a lot more HAPPENS over bottles of alcohol. This is something i've witnessed over the past few years. Though i don't drink, i'm blessed with engineer-friends who do. They've got excellent career graphs. However, they turn into completely different animals once they are plastered. It's almost funny. Some of them become lyrical and start spouting long-buried poems. Funny? Some begin to comment on social issues they don't give a shit about when they are sober. Funny. Some dance a fusion of Classical and Western. Not funny. But one thing is for sure: you get to notice a part of them you otherwise would miss. Though alcohol drinks up the alcoholic in the long run, it throws some much-appreciated light on personalities and stories from personal histories. As if all good, sad, interesting tales require are some drops of liquor into the system. And then some more. I wish i could write an ode—à la Harivanshrai Bachchan—instead of this lacklustre blog post—to the drunkards. But then, my friends aren't addicted yet. They are just occasional morons who dream of turning into superheroes instead of cartoons someday.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

They didn't start the fire!

Have you ever noticed how a glowworm moves? You have? Congrats. You haven't? Kindly get out of your sense-forsaken city for once! Anyway sticking to the topic at hand, there's a certain rhythm in which it glides through air. From one leaf to another. From one branch to another. From one hand into a merciless glass bottle. Sometimes the poor creature even confuses summer with December and decorates an entire tree with wireless lighting. Magical indeed. They may sound benevolent but glowworms are classy beings too. They are like the Harvard-educated folks amongst them insects. They roam around with a glint in their ass. The superiority complex is visible but who's complaining? Also, unlike other identified flying objects, it's never in a hurry. In fact, they are like the fixed slo-mo version of Mother Nature. Try catching a butterfly with its over-sized wings and you'll know the difference between the two hi-flyers. One is nocturnal Muhammad Ali the Old while the other, diurnal Usain Bolt the Young. However, glowworms are wiser by default. They don't like publicity. Poets rarely notice their presence. Despite all of that, they teach us an invaluable lesson: When your butt is on fire, keep moving. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wise old father

My dad is crazy. Compared to my ma, that is. Nevertheless, people like him make this world a far better place to live in. They don't have college degrees or high-paying jobs nor have they travelled across time zones but that doesn't stop them from being nice to those who aren't used to it. Maybe that has something to do with the hospitality industry he has been associated with since the age of 13. Maybe not. All his life, he has been meeting strangers who enter, eat and exit. It's like a never-ending drill. He's more than his profession. He's not a saint though. Drinking problems and the consequent health issues don't let you. However, he treats people fairly and doesn't judge anyone. His views are not crystallized nor are they furnished with the whitewashed cloak of modernity.
The other day he was talking about how Mumbai scores over his native place in Manipal. "Bombay gave me food when there wasn't any in my village and you don't know what hunger is..." were his exact words. It's called gratitude. Devoid of political stance and other man-made distinctions. I remember him telling me a few years ago that he doesn't find anything wrong with the frustrating immigration taking place in the city. According to him, it's a cycle: "They are here to work. Their kids will grow and they'll move out the way their parents did. Nothing lasts forever. People who make a row of it are those who aren't able administrators. They don't have it in them to govern. Besides, we are talking about genuine labour here, not criminals. These poor migrants build our buildings, bridges, monorails, metros under worst working conditions..." He can go on and on without trying a wee bit to enforce his opinion on others. 
It's a pity he never got introduced to Internet.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Twitter's 96 Unwritten Rules

I've been on Twitter for more than four years now. My DP is as old as my twi-life. That's not a long time but it's long enough to let you know that you're basically a lazy narcissist who doesn't give a damn about social etiquette (read: vain conversations). Anyway, over the years, i've written some unwritten rules every now and then. Ironically enough. I don't follow them nor do i expect others to. About two years ago, i did a small study on the first three rules but as time passed by, i grew wiser and gave up. However, it's interesting to see how trends change and we try to make our virtual world as interesting as it can get while our real one begs upgradation. Below you'll find 96 such rules which are best left unread. [In case you're wondering why 96 and not 99 or 100, that's because it's 96 and not 99 or 100.]

Twitter's Unwritten Rule #1: When you don't have anything to say, say. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #2: Don't keep your crap to yourself. Your timeline is dying to *no*. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #3: Feel busier than you really are.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #4: In case you run out of rubbish to share, twitpic.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #5: Type whatever you want to say. No one's paying attention anyway. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #6: Don't shelve your worthless one-bit thoughts. Tweet.
Twitter's unwritten Rule #7: Remind us who we were lest we forget.
Twitter’s Unwritten Rule #8: Stay illusioned. After all, you are a tweep.
Twitter’s Unwritten Rule #9: Typos shall love you more than you hate them.
Twitter’s Unwritten Rule #10: Learn a lot about tweeps by meeting them. But a lot more by not ACTUALLY meeting them.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #11: However unbearable the bullshit, whatever be the consequences, remember just one thing—it's OK.  
Twitter’s Unwritten Rule #12: Apologize as soon as you realize that you’re making sense. 
Twitter’s Unwritten Rule #13: Twitter ain't for spreading hatred. It's for making us feel better about our sorry life. 
Twitter’s Unwritten Rule #14: Karma will unleash typos to wreck your poor jokes.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #15: Every second person on the timeline is an amateur photographer.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #16: Be. See. Flee.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #17: You don't need fodder for news. The news is you.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #18: Follow interesting tweets, not tweeps.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #19: If you're paying close attention to my crap, then yes, we are friends forever. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #20: Don't approve of whatever you tweet before and after lunch.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #21: Twitter shall make you feel busier than you really are.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #22: If someone unfollows you, be glad. At least someone took your crap seriously.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #23: You're an addict when you misplace something and look all over the timeline for it.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #24: A thought ain't aware what fucking downhill is all about until it turns into a lousy tweet.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #25: Referring to oneself in the third person = Referring to oneself in the first person 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #26: Anything that begins with 'Dear...' is going to end with a not-so-endearing comment.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #27: Log in just like you piss i.e. whenever you ought to.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #28: Judge other tweeps but keep your judgements to yourself.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #29: Stay emotionally damaged but be physically available on the timeline.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #30: Go conquer the world. Meanwhile, let the timeline know how much your life sucks.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #31: Wisecracks aren't signs of wisdom as they are peculiar signs of, well, horrible wisecracks. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #32: If reading others' merry tweets makes you happy, your innocence deserves much more happiness than that.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #33: Be as interesting as your retweets.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #34: No matter how many times one rewrites a bad joke, it remains just another bad joke.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #35: Spending too much time on the timeline is not only unhealthy but also unhealthy.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #36: Whatever.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #37: Anything on the timeline that begins with "Sometimes..." should be neglected. Any given time.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #38: You're more than just disoriented when instead of committing a typo, you miss the entire freaking word.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #39: It's impossible to forget a good tweet even if you can't recollect the tweep who posted it.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #40: We shall never run out of hypocritical nonsense.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #41: Timeline is a conversation bait at its worst.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #42: If you are here to prove something, you're demolishing the sole purpose.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #43: Trolls may not like you but they're the ones who genuinely pay heed to your virtual existence.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #44: If your tweets are irritating a particular set of crowd, you must be doing something right.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #45: Never ask tweeps whether they're employed or what they do for a living.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #46: Be your fake self.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #47: For every earthquaky action, there is an exaggerated timeline reaction.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #48: Every little thing takes place for the sake of a tweet.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #49: Thou shalt commit silly typos. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #50: Whenever you commit a typo, they'll laugh...and then wait for you to correct it.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #51: More or less, all opinions expressed on the timeline are of negligible value.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #52: Everybody on the timeline sound like each other i.e. somebody they are not.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #53: A majority of the folks here are sex joke offenders.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #54: All tweeps are contemporary writers.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #55: Together we can and we will make a grievance.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #56: The hashtag #OKIamgoing always sounds funnier than whatever precedes it. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #57: We won't leave Twitter abusing the lame old excuse saying THAT would make us quitters.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #58: Sentimental tweets and timeline are made for each other.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #59: Tweeps can't afford to be poor.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #60: Everybody is entitled to everybody's opinion.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #61: If you've got absolutely no idea what you're doing on the timeline, you're acing it.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #62: Each one of us have a unique image here. It's called DP. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #63: To each his pwn.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #64: If you're plagiarizing a tweet, make sure you end it with #rerun. You might at least get the benefit of doubt. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #65: We are only as insomniac as our timeline.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #66: Quit pretending that you're the last savior of Queen's English. It doesn't owe you anything and vice versa.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #67: The honestest compliment one can ever get here is a o_O. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #68: The logout button is the only thing worth taking seriously here. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #69: The timeline will ALWAYS appear happier than you.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #70: Tweeps never lose an opportunity to add RIP before famous names. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #71: If you fail to laugh at your timeline, you're an idiot.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #72: Avoid meeting fellow-tweeps. They seem better in their tweets.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #73: Impressing your old followers is always going to be one heck of a task. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #74: Keeping up with the tradition, Twitter's Unwritten Rule #75 is going to suck even more.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #75: Kabhi kisi ko mukammal jahaan nahi milta; kahi retweet toh kahi star nahi milta.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #76: For a majority of us, tweeting is the closest we'll ever get to social service.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #77: As long as you can tip, it doesn't matter whether you are a pro or not.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #78: Your tweets are supposed to be good enough only for YOU and no one else. 
 Twitter's Unwritten Rule #79: Almost every second thing that happens is twitpic-worthy.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #80: If you haven't been abused by random tweeps yet, you are doing EVERYTHING wrong.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #81: You've arrived for real when somebody gets your tweet tattooed on their ass.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #82: If you can't tweet well, diss well.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #83: For every action, there's an equal and opposite hashtag reaction.
 Twitter's Unwritten Rule #84: Be the outrage you want to see in the world.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #85: Time is divided into BO (Before Outrage) and AO (After Outrage) 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #86: We never grow tired of entertaining each other for free. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #87: Be appreciative of the crap you read here because time and energy has been spent on it.  
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #88: Bring thinking back. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #89: If you can't say it here, those words shall most probably die with you. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #90: Think twice before posting one-liners. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #91: We're never going to be as awesome as our tweets. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #92: It's not a twi-fight if it doesn't involve blood.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #93: Don't generalize. 
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #94: Never act as if you've got a life by saying stuff like "I've got a life".
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #95: There was a lousy comedian in you that needed internet to come out.
Twitter's Unwritten Rule #96: We tweet best when we've got absolutely nothing to tweet.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Borderline friendship

If she keeps on burning any longer, she won't survive. This line often rings in my head whenever i think of Pakistan. Every country deserves better. More so when i come across news headlines with some place in that Allahforsaken country having a blast. Of the horrible sort. When such discouraging buzz is doing the round, my memory runs through the gems listed below. Each one of them have a face and a story; some short, some longer. Depending on the kind of interaction i've had with them in the virtual world over the past few years. For the record, the only Pakistani i've ever met in person is Ali Zafar. Yes, the actor-singer. The people i've mentioned below are those whom i haven't had the good fortune to meet. Yet.     
Sahil. Furhan. Mehvish. Shiraz. Marvi. Umer. Osama. Akram. Anika. Fizza. Sana. Asma. Sohail. Aadil. Zeeshan. Nazia. Ahmed. Waji. Khawarbhai. Hasan. Kiran. Nada. Zyenab. Rabab. Hira. Burhan. Danish. Aneek. Hafsa. Haroon. Khaver. SMQ. Farhan. Obaid. Heena. Joanna. Rai. Kursed. Haider. Naukhaiz. Niza. Sara. Laeeq. MQazi. Rumaisa. Waqas. Zohaib. Muhammad. Heeri. Samaira. Maliha.
Though i'm not very good with names and i'm sure i must have missed some in haste, these are the ones who instantly clicked. They taught me something or the other about myself by expressing their views. Most of them belong to the ever-affable blogosphere (besides Twitterverse) and i share a good rapport—if not deep friendship—with each one of them. Someday, not very far away from where we are today, i'll be crossing the border to have a chat. Until that happens, i hope they are fine and separated from danger. Of any sort. Situations are so grim right now that when i ask a friend from across the border to take care—unlike with others—i specifically mean it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The matrix of appearance

I saw you in my dreams last night. Again, as expected. However, this time around i noticed something. Unlike me, you never age. You remain the same whereas i keep on transforming from bad to worse. You somehow stay the person you were 9 years ago. I'm not complaining though. After all, it's the closest i get to witnessing a miracle in my otherwise stagnant life. People would die to stay young, wouldn't they? Time can be cruel on your body. In the meantime, several theories sprung up in my mind but none came close to explaining this rather unjust equation. I accept that you were always beautiful and innocent so that shouldn't come as a shocker even when my eyes are tight shut. But then I often wondered after waking up why am i so miserable while you are so marvelous. Today, i finally realized the answer. Turns out everything is the way it is because you are not real.