Archive for the ‘art’ Category

When westerners think Indian art, they immediately look towards AR Rahman, our poster boy with kooky hair, Amitabh Bachchan, the has-been who now sells B-grade toiletries on local TV channels and Aishwarya Rai, our toned down, family-friendly version of Paris Hilton. During the Sixties, according to the West, the Indian art scene comprised Ravi Shankar, men of yoga who got a free pass to Woodstock, half-assed spiritual gurus and any bearded dude who knew how to play the sitar. Forty years later, the misconception continues, only now we are subject to a remixed version of their ignorance.

See folks, we do more than make frighteningly dumb music for NRI discotheques to wax nostalgic over and magically transport our heroes and heroines to Switzerland for elaborate dance sequences. I mean, we still do that a lot but our homegrown artists have many a times been spectacularly original too. Our fixation with American pop culture and Broadway’s song-and-dance routines, as fucked up as it is, is reserved only for the glossiest of the mainstream; and with our media only throwing the spotlight on whatever/whoever is easily marketable, that’s all the rest of the world gets to see and brand as ambassadors of their mediums.

Just so you know, AR Rahman is not our finest musical talent; he can only  touch himself (or the Pussycat Dolls) to that notion while the maestro Ilaiyaraaja keeps creating some of the finest Indian music you could ever possibly hear. Silly primadonnas with Khans as second names are not amongst our most gifted actors; they are stylized puppets who cry on soap commercials, take off their shirts when there is a crowd of more than ten, play 25 year-olds in movies, dance with 22 year-olds in music videos and feed off the puppy love of 12 year-olds in real life – all at the ripe old age of fourty.

People like Raghuvaran, Sarita, Tabu, Cochin Haneefa, Boman Irani, Pratap Pothan, Nanditha Das, Atul Kulkarni, Nagesh, and Naseeruddin Shah are just some of the few who can act circles around the goddam Khans and Rais. And how movie critics like Roger Ebert and Peter Bradshaw are so convinced of their dedication to worldwide cinema when they have never watched a K Balachander or Balu Mahendra film is some sort of a sad mystery to me. I’m sure they have watched Sathyajit Ray’s entire collection but their relevance is outdated considering the wealth of cinema that came thereafter (Is Kurosawa the only Japanese director they speak of? No!).

The worst of all however is reserved for our musical inclinations…the grand misconception that either bhangra or Ustad Amjad’s meditative fiddling represents the average Indian’s sentiment towards what constitutes to good music.

Look, we are at ease with the fact that the West is enamoured by our Third World culture and if it helps us out with getting financial aid, screw it, continue thinking that there are little kids here in cities that need saving from Bengal tigers, King Cobras and erratic castrations. I certainly can’t deny that only a handful of countries are as socially backward in thought as India; however, for fuck’s sake and the sake of every Indian artist who didn’t look towards the West to find his/her muse, do not, for one second, think that our art is as insipid as your opinion of it.

Dappan Koothu is one of those largely ignored forms of South Indian art. Dappan Koothu is a percussion-based form of rural music that has its roots in South Indian folklore. While the more populist Carnatic music genre caters to classicist pop in the sense that it is based on precise rhythmic patterns, Dappan Koothu is more of freestyle jazz; mostly based around the wildfire rhythms of the tharai thappattai (a local drum). So intensely against the rules of a conventional melody, it puts both the musician and the audience in a trance-like state, with its mesmerizing mix of random beats.

In fact, a section of South Indians hires tharai thappattai drummers to play at their funerals; intoxicated, they wreak havoc on their percussion instruments and dance in front of the funeral procession to both signify the joyousness in the life once lived and to provide a memorable passage for the dead to move on.

I’d hoped that MIA’s fantastic Kala and Arular albums would be Dappan Koothu’s climb to prominence, considering that she uses many elements of it in tracks such Bird Flu, Sunshowers, Bucky Done Gun, Fire Fire and a few other gems. Despite collaborating with AR Rahman for that movie’s soundtrack, she is one of the few non-Indians who actually understands Indian art for what it is – diverse. Her track Bamboo Banga even has a brilliant sampling of a classic by India’s greatest musician – Ilaiyaraaja (the wonderful Kattu Kuyilu Manasukkulle track from Thalapathi).


Ilaiyaraaja – Punnagi Mannan Theme

Ilaiyaraaja – Johnny Theme

Ilaiyaraaja – Paartha Vizhi (Guna)


MIA – Bamboo Banga

Ilaiyaraaja –  Kattu Kuyilu

Dappan Koothu freestylin 1

Dappan Koothu freestylin 2

Read Full Post »

chappelle1Thanks to external influences and an explosive urge to laugh the fuck out, Jerry has downloaded Season 1 and 2 of the Dave Chappelle Show. After the watching the entire lot over the past weekend, I can definitely testify that Chappelle is one of the funniest mofos out there.

Quite possibly, my favourite skits from the show

When Keepin’ It Real Goes Wrong

Tyrone Biggums’ Intervention

The Racial Draft

I’m Wayne Brady, Bitch

A Moment In The Life Of Lil Jon

Prince vs Dave Chappelle

Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Story of Rick James

You can also watch the entire lot (I think) at Comedy Central

Read Full Post »

Emo is nothing but a placid subgenre of mainstream punk music. It started innocently enough with bands such as Fugazi, Sunny Day Real Estate and Jimmy Eat World creating music that was a bit more emotional than, let’s say, the average beer-guzzler was accustomed to. It veered away from the path of modern American rock and came dangerously close to a territory where Papa Roach and Linkin Park had previously urinated upon as a mark of dominance.

A few years later, once market-savvy musicians and music critics had their way with it, emo became a fashion statement. Sort of like goth, but with less attitude and more make-up. And now things got extremely annoying.

Band like My Chemical Romance, Evanescence, Panic At The Disco and Dashboard Confessional gained popularity by re-enacting several episodes of Dr Phil meets Oprah Winfrey backed by bass guitars, percussion beats, tears and rolls of Kleenex. The targeted audience, however, were enthralled that they no longer needed that Staind album to help them cry to sleep at night.

Going by the age-old entertainment ritual to spoof anything that becomes popular, this subculture too was dragged through parodies and provoking caricatures. Most of them had a problem with the emotionally-stunted shenanigans of these emo musicians who were desperately trying to get the world to feel sorry about their depressed state of mind.

Azuzephre struck the funniest blow by creating two animated characters – Pon and Zi. Little comic strips began appearing online that had these itsy bitsy characters talking and acting like emo musicians.

Sort of like Happy Tree Friends, but without the bloodshed. Very, very funny.

From the Pon and Zi website.

Read Full Post »

heathjokerI didn’t particularly appreciate Vir Sanghvi likening Joker to two-bit terrorist organizations and then India to Batman. Just so you know, The Joker never caused “mayhem and murder” just because he could. He did it because he craves for a more enlightened society. He chooses to break down the wafer-thin, cyclopic perspective that Gotham City’s residents have on the society they lived in. It’s neither madness nor random acts of barbarism; more of a conviction to the truth that his life’s tragedies had taught him. The second greatest edition of BatmanA Serious House on Serious Earth – even implied that The Joker’s “mental state is in fact a previously unprecedented form of super-sanity”.

He concludes the article with a well-timed misnomer of a statement.

“What strange times we must live in when a Batman movie more accurately reflects the real world than any action thriller”

My good man, the only thing strange is your belief that the world has been anything but strange sincethemanwholaughs1 its birth.

A special shout-out to Conrad Veidt’s portrayal of Gwynplaine in The Man Who Laughs.

Such a delightful irony it is that the inspiration for The Joker has its roots in a film that is quite possibly the first instance of German expressionism rubbing shoulders with romantic melodrama, surrealist horror and pre-World War II film noir.

Yes good sir, I think it’s pretty rad too.

Read Full Post »

BlogSilver Bells

Good fun, smart read…enough said

Video: Gogol Bordello’s Start Wearing Purple

Coolest sounds from New York City since Talking Heads.

South Park Moment: Tribute to Kenny

Oh my god, they killed Kenny.

Website: Pearl’s Before Swine

Very, very funny. Dilbert ain’t shit. 

Screenshot: Arkham Asylum on PS3…seriously, what free time?


Click here for more Arkham Asylum screenshots

Read Full Post »

poster-of-the-dark-knight1From The Sun

Bruce Wayne – who by night is Batman – gets murdered by a man claiming to be the father he thought was dead.

In a highly controversial new storyline Bruce, who first appeared in 1939, is killed by Simon Hurt – the leader of the shady Black Glove organisation. Writer Grant Morrison said, “I like to keep the story twisting and turning. So what I am doing is a fate worse than death.

“This is the end of Bruce Wayne as Batman. He goes on to say that Batman will live through another person.”

If it’s Nightwing, I swear I’m going to riot.

If it’s Tim Drake, I’m going to kill myself.

Please bring back Azrael and ignite a year-long feud with The Joker.

Read Full Post »

I have managed to hold Adiga’s The White Tiger every now and then before my weary eyes for nearly two days. I must admit that I don’t like it and I find it to be very unoriginal. During the weekend, I also had a quick look at what the critics have had to say about this youngster winning the Booker Prize. On Sunday, I came across an atrocious article on the Literary Review section of The Hindu newspaper, which tore Mr Adiga apart for being “curiously inauthentic”. The critic, Amitava Kumar, apparently had a problem with the fact that the author wrote about Delhi without ever having visited the place. He proceeds to question the validity of his characters with acidic barbs such as “ the novelist seemed to know next to nothing about either the love or the despair of the people he was writing about” and “such is the impurity of our enterprise, as writers or as critics, that even in the act of proclaiming our freedom from the demands of authenticity”.

Well Mr Amitava (and the Editor of Hindu), I am shocked that you, as a writer for The Hindu, dare to comment on the lack of authenticity. We, the readers, are subject to browsing through hundreds of articles daily from your esteemed publication that are no more authentic than a paraplegic goat bleating abut the inadequacies of Zimbabwe’s Human Rights Commission. And don’t even get me started on the spectacularly bad features on Metro Plus that are so out of tune with the consciousness of today’s youth culture.

Most of all, a writer does not have experience something in order to write about it. By that logic, Douglas Adams should have been nailed to the cross for not having traveled through time, space, and the restaurant at the end of the universe. All he needed was a bag of magic mushrooms and a vapid sense of imagination. And also, case in point, Kiran Desai. She was born in Delhi and lived there until she was 14, moved to England and then consequently to the United States where she stays even now as a permanent resident. Yet Suchita Behal’s review of Inheritance Of Loss (on The Hindu Literary section, fittingly), she just stopped short of vomiting warm love all over this Booker Prize winner whose author had written a story about a “judge living out a disenchanted retirement in Kalimpong, a hill station in the Himalayan foothills”. I guess, Columbia University (where she studied creative writing) had a special Himalayan mock-up environment to make her feel all the more connected to the story. Ms Behal concludes the horrid piece by saying “That Desai has been listed for the Booker should come as no surprise. It is not often that one finds books written with joy, compassion and a rare candour”.

So I ask of you, Mr Amitava, have you ever written a Booker Prize-winning novel full of stories whose origins have no roots in your life? If not, how dare you gather that what inspired Mr Adiga was entirely not authentic. It’s a boring piece of literature, but definitely not deserving of 2,000 words of misguided criticism.

This chap also has the audacity to fondle with his own literary phallus by saying tripe like “At some level, realism had become my religion.”

No dear sir, it isn’t.

Envious condescension is your religion and N Ram – your god, for giving you the space no less the opportunity to even think about writing literary reviews.

Read Full Post »

The Killing Joke is probably Joker’s most terrifying performance on graphic print. His insanity shone dimly like a broken ray of hope through dark corridors almost threatening to reveal the truth that mommy and daddy have tried for so long, and hard to keep away from you.

The way he dissects Inspector Gordon’s mind is a thing of beauty. He slices and dices through every shred of pattern in Gordon’s life and haphazardly discards them on a larger canvas to make a point.

His point being, in a world gone insane, man should do all but remain sane.

Yesterday, I watched The Dark Knight for the fifth time and I am yet to be bored by Heath Ledger’s performance. In fact every each time I listen to Joker recite chilling anecdotes behind his scars…I cringe in delight.

So obsessed I am about Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Joker’s shenanigans that I have started to question my interest in all future endeavors of Christopher Nolan’s tremendous take on Gotham’s darkest saviour.

In fact I didn’t think too much of Christian Bale’s character. The blood lust that the Dark Knight mustered under his breath in epics such as Crimson Mist and Knightfall seemed missing in Nolan’s latest. Anyone who has read the visceral episodes of Dark Knight battling Azrael, Bane or even the Mutants in Dark Knight Returns series, will feel a pinch of disappointment witnessing Bale’s character abiding by moral laws to serve justice.

I want to see a more vicious Batman, one who is capable of soaring over ethical grounds and laying his enemies to rest in a bloody pool of poetic justice. One should know that more than anything else, The Dark Knight is a saner and in ways weirder than most can fathom a less heroic reflection of Joker.

Ask Alfred, he’ll tell you.

Read Full Post »

I have never been receptive to advice given by people, who assume they have the responsibility of making me a better writer. During a one-year crash course I had to endure at Asian College of Journalism, the professors instilled inside of me a kind of hatred that I have since harboured towards newspapers. A warm, glowing abhorrence for these vile filth-mongers who treat language as a drunken pimp would an extremely talkative prostitute. I (along with many) shelled out over a lakh to learn how to suck the beauty out of language and present it in a square.

These self-professed breeders of journalists wreaked havoc on the students’ fertile minds and impregnated them with an almost delirious sense of rigidity. However, my sympathies were reserved only for a few, as a majority of the students in my batch were content with having their words altered and styled to suit the growing demand of old soothsayers sipping coffee in the morning and eagerly wanting to know who inaugurated the weekly Lion’s Club of Chennai seminar held to determine who gets to pluck their nose during the annual meet.

They even let the teachers at ACJ beguile them into feeling guilty about the kids dying in Uganda. Of course that didn’t stop these wretched idiots from complaining about the lack of luxuries during the deprivation trip in Vellore.

Dep·ri·va·tion: The act or an instance of loss; the condition of being deprived.

Lux·u·ries: Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort.

Id-i-ot: A person of profound mental retardation and generally being unable to learn connected speech or guard against common dangers.

Being employed did nothing to stem the rot of language that ate through the hours of the clock each and every day. As a web writer for a particular newspaper, I was taught how to sell Priyanka Chopra’s cleavage by leveraging language; as a business writer for one of those god-awful interactive web marketing companies, I sold Wipro’s products by reducing English to jargonized crap and now, well now I wear a tie on Mondays and don’t have to write to earn a living anymore.

I really don’t like being told how to write. All these ‘Learn How To Be A Better Writer’ crap that defiles the sanctity of bookshelves means less to me than an aspirin would to a goat with gonorrhea.

However, there is one particular page of text that can actually teach you something about the English language. Click here, read it and try understanding the nuances; but don’t imagine yourself to be a better writer after doing so. You would have merely become another admirer of George Orwell.

Read Full Post »

Something in motion

Forget love

I want to die in your yellow hair

(From Richard Brautigan’s collection of poems)

Poetry is mostly pretentious, I think. At least it sounds like that. Incorrect punctuations are often misunderstood to be metaphors and usage of irrational tenses is looked at as being innovative.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Some poets do not worship the Bard and the rest of those silly English bastards. They write in verses because they are too drugged out to think of coherent sentences.

Richard Brautigan, one of the geniuses behind the counterculture movement of the late 1960s, made less sense than a mad goat. But his poems were the stuff that psychedelic dreams were made of.

In 1955, when he was 20 years of age, Brautigan was arrested for throwing a rock through a police station window. Instead of being sent to prison, the authorities sent him to Oregon State Hospital where he was treated with electro-convulsive therapy.

Now that’s poetry, man.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »