Sunday, April 16, 2006

My First (Five) Tags

My first tag... or should I say my first five tags? I have gone straight from Rookie to Ace in one post (One of the few “Ace in a day” in history of the world). Thanks Silverine. This is one big post, so grab some coffee before you start reading. Got some popcorns too? Then here go the fiTags:

5 people who top your shit list and why...

I don't hate any person/persons so strongly that I would want to kill them, or at least hit them on sight. But yes, there are some people whom I wouldn't want to meet in this life.

  • George R. R. Martin: The reasons are detailed here.

  • Politicians: Those who have made the reservations/caste thing a laughing stock of the nation. The laws made by them are just enough to show their vote bank that they are doing something for downtrodden, without the actual needy getting the benefit out of it.

  • Fanatics: In any flavour. Let it be religious kind who think theirs is the only religion and only god in the world, or “movie star fan” types who just disrupted whole Banglore, while saying that government was at fault their star died; they cause at the minimum embarrassment and at extreme inconvenience to the world at large.

  • Sonia Gandhi: I am not xenophobic and I (grudgingly) even respect her as a shrewd politician, but then the Sacrifice drama is being played one time too many for my liking.

  • Mukesh Khanna: Bhishma in Mahabharat was excellent, as was the voice over in Hanuman. But then, even if you copy others to make a so called Indian Superhero, there are some things which you shouldn't do: The Hero having a girlfriend who hates or isn't even aware of his normal person avtar (cliché, ask Luis Lane or Mary Jane Watson), a power hungry scientist (clichier, "paaawar") and a villain who was a good person who turned bad (clichiest, everything from Star Wars to Green Goblin).

Close Brushes with Death/danger:
At least 3 times in my life, I have had death knocking on my door, luckily I was outdoors at the time.

  • We are playing “Hide and Seek” in our yard. I finish counting numbers, and turn around to see all my friends standing on the railing looking at something. That's when I realise that while my back was turned, and my eyes closed, a cobra went past my back to our garden. Now I am a confirmed ophidiphobic.

  • My first bicycle. I am riding the bicycle on the road for the first time. On the slope, I lose control hitting a pole. Just the second I fall down, a minitruck rumbles by my head

  • Me and my friend are on a camping trip with a group. While on the road to Arthur seat, with backpack almost equalling my weight, I slip on the jungle trail. I slide towards the valley about 6 foot before catching a tree with both hands. Otherwise the swift descent was a definite ticket to a swifter ascent.

5 Preferable modes of suicide, in descending order:
There is only one, and I am trying that now, by old age.

5 Guilty pleasures:

  • Chocolate, I love anything that has chocolate in it.

  • Chandoba, Champak, Secret Seven et al. kids' books. I love the stories of Vikram and Vetal.

  • (Re)n reading Sherlock Holmes. I can recite the whole plots with all details (except the names, I am bad at remembering names)

  • Salty Moong Daal, for interested people, you get this from Haldiram's. I can finish 500 gm packet all by myself. It's a legacy from my family, like my liking for coffee.

  • I am a Wordsmith. I love coining new words, even when that is by joining two words together for ease of use. (e.g. FiTags = five + tags)

5 things you never want to forget:

This section was getting a little too big to be made a part of the post. An entire post on this (or maybe 2-3 posts) coming up soon.

5 things you wish to forget:
There are 3 or 4 such incidents. The most harmless and the only one I can disclose without embarrassing the parties involved: my IIT-JEE results (or no-results, whatever you say).

5 really exotic dishes you have tried:

  • Vegetable Pulav (exotic on the account that I made it for the first time, with some exotic ingredients from Mixed Veg)

  • Tiramisu (made by my brother, but not exotic for that reason, but for the taste)

  • Chilli Tofu

  • Kaateri Vaangemasa, a kind of fish, I think. Sorry, can't translate the name.

  • Some fish I tried in a Thai restaurant in San Jose, forgot the name.

5 crushes/loves in your life... in chronological order

Can't remember any more.

Strangest dream you ever had:
I don't remember most of my dreams after the morning after, but the strangest one must be the one containing me, my friends on a trip to somewhere, which included a time travel somewhere in it, where we all travelled to Medieval times and got lost in Pune.

5 most valued personal possessions:
Not in any particular order:

  • My Sony Vaio laptop: My latest acquisition, and believe me, it is great.

  • My black i-pod: second latest, preceding the vaio by about 2 hours.

  • The Mug I got from Museum Sinsheim, showing a concorde.

  • My DSC P-43

  • My book collection: increasing by day.

5 favourite superheroes..... and why:
I don't like Superman, because he is too invincible. I don't like Dark Angel, or any of the X-Men, because they are too dark sometimes. But I like,

  • Peter Benjamin Parker/ Spiderman: A geeky Superhero if there was one ever. Most human of the lot.

  • Tintin: Not exactly tights and cape clad hero, but the first man on the moon. A Belgian young reporter who reports less than he solves crime. When his team of rum-loving, quipping dog Snowy, Captain “Blue-Blistering-Barnacles” Haddock and the Prof. “slightly hard of hearing” Calculus gets on your case, believe that you are busted. Tintin has probably pulled off most escapes from improbable situations.

  • Asterix: With his menheir delivery buddy Obelix (“these romans are crazy”), and the village Druid Getafix (“No obelix” “because I fell in the potion when I was a kid, I know I know”), he is the super duper (secret potion guzzling) Roman bashing machine. And oblique references to recent history (he tells Cleopatra to call the French if Egyptians ever need something like a canal to be built) make it a funnier read. Just don't get on a pirate ship when these people might be on the sea, and keep Cacofonix well tied up and gagged, and the sky will not fall on your head.

  • Phantom: “Phantom is The Superhero” (an old jungle saying)

  • SWAT Kats: T-bone and Razor are one of the first characters/people who started me on my addiction to everything that is flying. I spent many an afternoons (4.30 pm) lying on the couch watching Cartoon Network, just to watch Turbokat foil the Pastmaster's plan once again, and turn Commander Feral into a seething volcano.

Now comes the interesting part. 5 people I tag: Bharath, Deepa, Figo, Kani and Khushal.

Quote of The Day:

You're not Superman you know.
- Aunt May

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ramayan Ramayan

(Say the heading in your best Narad "Narayan, Narayan" imitation)

“Seeta-Ram Chareet Ati Pawan” (the Paa dragged) the only times I have heard these lines were sitting in front of TV or running to get in front of TV, and I am sure many people of you would say the same thing. I don't need to tell anybody who had heard this that the serial Ramayan was extremely famous at those times.

So famous that the traffic on Sunday mornings used to be sparse (the trend taken forward by Mahabharat, when traffic used to be zero). In fact I remember watching a whole episode standing in front of TV shop (/hotel TV) when we were on Banglore for trip one Sunday.

Anyway, the reason I dragged all this history (ancient history for some) out in the open, is: recently I got access to the episodes of this epic, and watching them again refreshed all these memories of sitting in front of TV with the whole family, having the cup of coffee, and getting the dishes of breakfast out during advertisements. Guess many people must have such memories, given the sheer popularity of the serial.

This was one of the first serials I liked on the TV. In fact, I think Ramayan started the whole trend of religious serials (which was taken way ahead by cable channels, so much so that only english channels would be worth watching from all those Gods who visit us through the channels). At least my parents never had problem with us watching this, for the content and after watching again, now actually I am appreciating some of the things about our culture they showed/told in that serial. If the kids are insisting on watching TV, these serials should be recast. It is indeed filled with sometimes in-depth knowledge of our culture. The special effects team was marvellous (for details, see below), and the main actors pulled off very good performances, which actually matched their characters.

But then, the “re”view of the episodes brought some more things to the light, which make these episodes a very good source of entertainment too. For one thing, I am sure the music/song writers must have doubled up as dialogue writers, which must be the reason that each episode has about 80% songs/shlok + 10% music, the rest are dialogues. I haven't yet come across a fully musical episode, but I am sure one such thing is lurking somewhere out there. But this helps when you are watching it again, so that you can forward all these things, and finish a half-hour episode in 10 min.

Then again, kids will be kids and actors will be actors. I am sure I heard little Bharat shouting “Yay!!!” when it was told he got maximum mangoes with his arrows (and I am pretty sure the word originated from “Yes”, giving us a shocking insight into the One Source of All Languages theory). And how many people have noticed the look of incredulity/unbelief/envy on the face of Lakshman when Ram kills Tratika? He has kept his feelings pretty much in control other times, but here, he slipped. And then, when the brothers tease Ram after he is in love with Seeta, the banter is way away from the reality. But then again, they were heros/Gods in ancient times, so may be that will be norm of those times.

But the extras/secondary actors leave much to be desired. The Rakshak mandali normally work by their make-up, and the only acting needed from them is laughing evilly. Still, I am sure the script said that when Parashuram comes in Janak's court after the breaking of Shivdhanushya, he is supposed to be angry. He tries to pull off the Jamadagni, and succeeds in looking as if he is so terrorised that even a cat mewing behind him will be enough for him to run back to Mahendra. The whole scene is so funny, that I was laughing hard even 10 minutes after it was over. The whole sequence contains Parashuram wishing all “Chirayu bhav” etc etc when they welcome him, even if he is angry (try saying something good when you are angry, the effect is irresistibly funny), the Lakshman betting him on about his state and saying we don't hurt Brahman, and the final touch comes from Ram, whose lines when appeasing the old chip off the block (well, they both are Avatars of Vishnu) sound so very insulting.

After I recovered from this, the next episode is spent in all the marriages and all, which are about same as Barjatya films marriages. After the marriages, the whole next episode is spent by everyone asking everybody else not to leave, and live some more days. After Janak to Dasharath, Dasharath to (one of) his brother-in-law, I was expecting the next scene with Vashishth to Vishwamitra, and could foresee the dialogues.

After all the fun, I thought that Balkand was never my favourite Kand anyway, and I shifted my focus to the favourite Yudhdhakand. I guess you must have guessed the subject I am going to talk about next. Yes, the reason many a children lost eyes, and many a brooms lost the sticks in them. The war with arrows (Astras) where the (in)famous special effects team came into their own. The eternally going arrows, with something (either some gas, or some divali-crackers type light and fire) coming out of their tips. When the arrows (finally) met each other, there would a sound, and then one of the arrows would vanish, causing the winner glee and the loser in the bargain much chagrin. I have just seen some of the (famous) Ram-baan returning to his quiver after the exchange. I am sure that's what is called “Akshay bhata”, the quiver of infinite arrows.

And the way Laksham taunts his enemies is, in a word, priceless. And the look on the face of Angad after his tail is retracting in his body after he has talked in Ravan's court is, well imagine the look on your face when something is being pushed into your body, and I mean something the width of your wrist, and length more than your height. After this he challenges the Courtiers/Warriors in the court to move his foot, and the action he does reminds you of a kid throwing tantrum and sitting on the ground.

The first day of war starts with both the sides standing in front of each other and saying “... ki jai” so many times that you start shouting for them to get it over with and start the fighting. And the main players fight in front of a background of war, in which many times the enemies can be seen passing clean through each other.

Well, the post will go on and on, and still there are many episodes to be seen. Of course I haven't mentioned Hanuman anywhere, because his roles in the episodes I have seen till now is minimal. But then, Dara Singh... that should be enough.

I know I have written a pretty bad “re”view (काढलिये म्हणा ना), but then, I guess saying that it is one of my all time favourite serials (along with Mahabharat, Byomkesh Bakshi etc etc) should be enough to show me that I don't think it's a junk.

While we are on the subject, can anybody tell me where I can get Mahabharat or Byomkesh Bakshi episodes?

Quote of the Day:

Television is a new medium. It's called a medium because nothing is well-done.
- Fred Allen (1894 - 1956), on the radio program The Big Show, Dec. 17, 1950