Saturday, March 31, 2007

Death Pondy

Ever heard of hard rock that gradually transforms itself over a period of time into very hard rock, to metal, to heavy metal and then to death metal? Well, apparently a bunch of guys from PEC (read Punjab Engineering College, of Kalpana Chawala fame (!)) have extended the analogy a bit too far.

If "BC Sutta" from Zeest was pondy, "Gaand Mein Danda" from bodhiTree was hard pondy, this song called "Balaatkari" is undoubtedly Death Pondy! I wish I could upload it here, but I don't know to do it. But I'll try to post a link somewhere at least.

Check out this song if you're even remotely interested in the evolution of a subsubsubgenre of music.

Dated: 25th May
Here's the link to the song

Independent (read Underground) rock music scene in India these days - Part 1

The post is NOT supposed to be an analysis of the aforementioned scene. It is simply a collection of Indian rock music acts I like. And again, the list is in no particular order. Since I am a major fusion fan, it will understandably be dominated by Fusion based bands.

1) Indian Ocean : Already a mainstream success in India and elsewhere. One of the few very successful crossover acts. And yes, they are one of my all time favourite bands (other favourites include bands like Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, The Doors, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin).

2) The Raghu Dixit Project : Check the following link

Can't find the 'Insert link' option. The beta version was better than the non beta one!

3) Parikrama : Obviously one of the oldest and popular Indian rock bands. I still believe (some say naively) Sonam Sherpa is probably the best guitarist in India and I rank "But it Rained" as a top epic gaana comparable to the best in the world.

4) Zero : The Mumbai band that is supposed to be the best band in India. I wouldn't say it's the best (especially after Warren (the guitarist) left), but what a band anyway! "Spitleaf" and "Christmas in July" are just brilliant by any standards.

5) Bleeding Madras : Heard just one song of theirs : "Bleeding Madras". What a song! I am a humble fan.

6) Alms for Shanti : Major fusion act. Members include the veterans of the first Indian rock band "Indus Creed" (previously called "Rock Machine"). Based in Mumbai and New York, they are those who pioneered this field. "Kash_ma_kash" (english version called "Varanasi Trail"), Superbowl etc are good songs.

7) Soulmate: If what I understand is correct, Rudy Wallang has teamed up with a chick to form this blues based band. The title of their album is called "Shillong" (I love the city!). Check out the song "Blues is my Soulmate". In case you did not know about Rudy Wallang, check out the song "Not those funking blues again". It is an absolute gem of a song which I am sure most people who have heard the song will agree with.

The other bands will be discussed in the Part 2 of the post.

Kuchch Kavitayen (!)

It's a shame I don't know how to post in Hindi in my blog. Probably Google doesn't have this feature. But anyway, here are a couple of doggerels I wrote not quite far back. It's easy to see their souls are Gulzar rip offs, but anyway...


Hua karta tha kabhi
Maan bete mein ek roohani rishta
Postmodernism hai ya kalyug
Sabhi disposable se nazar aate hain

2) Title (?) "On the 'erraticness' of the insti net"

Internet yoon chalta hai jaise dupahren bin batti khadi rahti hain
Karwat bhi badloon to paseene choone ka andesha rahta hai

The Pursuit of Lazyness

Lying on this hammock in the lazy, hot afternoon of Gokarna, one wonders at the genius that created something that totally, single mindedly and dedicatedly pursues laziness. This guy's got to be more lazy than I am. Hats off man!

Chandu sports a new hammock in his wormhole more famously known as Room 189 H Wing. In not quite unlike a Will Smithian fashion, I now wonder how could one exactly know how important this concept could be. Pandu can go fuck his ass off, for no matter what they say, it is a noble pursuit.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dream Girl (?)

I finally found the description of the girl I have been looking for.

The only qualifications I seek are :
A) She should not be ugly AND
B) She should be a member of the following subsubsubsubsubsubcult (I am becoming ultraultraultraultraultralenient):

Cinema lover - She should like at least half of them: Jane bhi do yaaron, Pulp Fiction, Cidade de Deus, Pyasa, Satya, Maqbool, Kill Bill 2, Pan’s Labyrinth, Muhafiz, Ed Wood, Kung Fu Hustle, Amores Perros.


Music Lover: At least one of the following: Should like Pink Floyd, Strong roots in 60’s rock music and The Grunge Movement, Strong interest in Indian Fusion Music especially in Rock, SD Burman fan.


Literature Lover: Should like some of them: Crime and Punishment, Neuromancer, The Catcher in the Rye, The First Circle.


Be a huge fan of Dostoyevsky or Nirmal Verma.


I think it’s easier to find a girl this way than by going your caste, sub caste, subsubcaste, subsubsubcaste………(think cult, sub cult, subsubcut, subsubsubcult…)

The only human who satisfies the rigid criteria cited above is Somnath Pal. Thankfully, he is ugly also.

PS: The above is a post intended for totally satirical purposes and has no resemblance to any such list factual or fictional. However, it is true that Somnath Pal is ugly.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Brahma-Muhurta Blues

I want to spend some quality time with myself. "Main aur meri tanhayi"-that kind of solitude. I know it might begin to suck after some time all alone. Haven't I felt only too strongly, the chasm that separates what I want to do from what I end up doing? Or the innate contradiction that plagues every thought that I care to think and every action that I intend to take? But truly, even though I begin losing it when I am alone (hence my automatic, ingrained fear/suspicion of the same), that is probably the best time I have whenever I have it. I can feel truly free and easy then, as I carry along my love-hate relationship with myself.

In fact, given a chance, I'd probably be alone most of the time with the backdrop of human inhabitation serving as an instrument of relaxation/merger into the cacophony/running away from self.

But probably given an actual chance I might blow it all, simply because I love it so much that way.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Against Ayn Rand

This piece is against Ayn Rand as a writer and is based on "The Fountainhead" and the first 130 pages of "Atlas Shrugged".

I will deliberately not talk about her philosophy even though it is highly controversial and its merits, debateable. I do this simply because I don't want to digress and simply want to focus on her artistic skills (or the lack of the same).

There is a huge fan base of hers in NIT S'kal (as elsewhere in South India) and I was therefore partially biased against her even before I read any of her works. This is not new to me as I am intensely suspicious of lit wannabes spouting polysyllabic words/jargon and showering praise upon X. This habit also led me to have a pejorative view of "The Catcher in the Rye" but in this case I realised at first, that it WAS a brilliant book and more slowly, that it was probably one of the greatest ever written. So, simply invoking this tendency of mine as the motivation for this (critical) article will probably not be correct.

The first thing that comes across to a layman average reader like me is that the book seems to be an embittered rant rather than a coherent, well guided chain of thoughts. She scarce feigns sympathy when talking about her bad characters and doesn't spare long winded superlative adjectives for her heroes and heroines.

For her the world is black or white. Mostly black with a tinge of intense, painfully bright white scattered here and there. The Black can't tolerate this and tries to stub out the White ruthlessly. There you have it-the quintessential Randian theme.

Now I am but a stupid kid, but this seems to me to be a very immature way of writing a great novel-great and epic being words routinely used to describe her works. I agree with epic, but great? Nah...(In fact, "The Foutainhead" was introduced to me with the words that meant that the four main characters of the book were four basis vectors, the linear combination of which would form the character of any arbitrary human ever conceived! Talk about tall praise!)

A great novel doesn't despise its characters. It treats them with sympathy, no matter how bad they are. Dostoyevsky wrote about Nihilists and buffoons all his life. In particular, he intensly disliked Nihilists and berated them in 'A Writer's Diary'-his non-fiction (some stories were published in them too. So technically, it's not all non fiction) collection of essays. But one look at the description of a Nihilist in any of his works dispels the notion that he took sides when he wrote. In fact, his description of these people is most moving, giving a rare insight into how much he empathised with them. A good writer doesn't contrive to defame a character. He understands the bad guy's punyness, his helpless evil. That, in my view, is a hallmark of a great novel-not girth of the work.

However if Ayn Rand had decided to write a graphic novel or a comic book, she would have been the greatest exponent of the genre for her characters are black or white, good or bad, superheroes or supervillains. "The Fountainhead" reads like an atrociously fat comic book. The hero fights all his life. He is blessed with superhuman powers that he uses to find his way out of troubles. He doesn't care a fuck about anybody and is supremely good looking and RomanGodesque in his features. And so on and so forth...Howard Roark could as well have been Batman. It would have been the greatest comic book ever written.

Now there is also a personal reason why I cannot stand Rand. She makes me feel like a piece of shit. Not just me but most of humanity. She hates mediocrity, so much so that the reader (if he is aware of his mediocrity, which sadly I am only too well aware of) might want to question his purpose of existence in this world. She is too fiercely opinionated on this topic (as with other topics) to even try to think on what the poor soul who is reading her high and mighty book might be feeling. She has places reserved in her books for Supermen and Superwomen, Supervillains and Supervamps, but not for ordinary folks with their failings and their humble efforts to correct them. She deals in extremes, not means.


Not everything is bad about her though. She is brilliant in patches. Too brilliant! Examples can be that paragraph about burning suttas being the manifestations of deep thought in "Atlas Shrugged" and that paragraph in which Peter Keating makes a bad painting and asks Howard Roark if it is any good. They are brilliant pieces of writing that would make any writer proud. Also notable is her use of extremely strong, brilliant, beautiful (read RomanGoddessesque) and intelligent females who are extremely proud and unyielding. I like them!

However, the problem with the works of this hopelessly popular writer would be a lack of feeling a reader will have for the protagonists. They are so fucking sure of themselves that I want to kill them! "Howard, I slept with X", "I know". "When I slept last with you, I didn't tell you I had AIDS. But I guess you knew it", "Yes I did". Yeah whatever! This went on to such extents that I wouldn't have been surprised if Howard Roark had collaborated with Saddam Hussain to blow away the housing complex. A pained grunt would have been my reaction, that's it!

Anyway, enough of Anti Rand rant. Any more of this and I would be accused of plagiarising from Ayn Rand herself.

The Indian-Western Music fusion scene -- Bhayanak Maut??? Not quite

There is a rich, diverse and vibrant fusion that is already rocking the underground music circles. An esoteric mix of the Indian with the western is being experimented with, leading to brilliantly interesting results. Not just that, the Indian bands that play hardcore rock without any overtones of Indian influences are pretty good by themselves (examples being Demonic Resurrection and Zero among others).

Its overly repeated and therefore has become somewhat of a cliche but I repeat it anyway. This kind of experimentation in particular and the fusion of cultures in general, is good, not bad.

This post on Indian rock scene is one of the many that I am planning to write in an attempt to explore the current musical experimentation that is going on in India especially in Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi and the North East.

I'll go meet the Dean now. Will come back to write more perhaps.

PS : The "Bhayanak Maut" referred to in the title is an Indian metal band. It kicks ass and has one of the best names you could have for a band! Jai Hind!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Why am I single?

Becaue I want a superwoman, and I am not a superman myself.

Bonus Vacation Post Four Year Vacation

After a four year vacation called Engineering in which I unlearnt everything technical sounding, we get a final post four year vacation bonus vacation for a tad more than three months.

Having realised recently that inspite of my impossibly terrible laziness, I somehow like to travel, I have been making plans of travelling whenever I can find some money to do so. Time has never been a problem since I am basically jobless.

This post vacations bonus vacation will be used by Somnath and I to travel around the mountainous Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and, if things go right, Leh-Ladakh.

This trip is also essential because this will be the first official collaboration between myself and Somnath. The fusion of two creative geniuses has to be set in some picturesque backdrop to ensure respect by the artsy posterity. The collaboration is supposed to be a graphic novel whose hero's tentative sketch is as shown. The artwork chief is Somnath and the story chief is myself. A tentative theme is a post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction universe (could it have been anything other than this?) but is open to changes and I wouldn't be surprised if by the end the story we get hold of is about Bhakt Prahlad and Santoshi Mata. We're ready to experiment, ready to hypothesise, ready to kick ass.

Ek Tamanna

That I write a book in which I distill whatever I know about what I have known and experienced. And that at least a hundred people read it before I die.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Things to do when high

1)Read Nirmal Verma,
2)Listen to Dave Matthews Band, Pink Floyd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Shakti etc,
3)Take 'trippy' random walks,
4)Explore the region between 'empathy' and 'realisation',
5)Kick ass in general.

Books read in vacations and eighth sem

1) Sarjana Path ke Sahyatri - Nirmal Verma
2) Raat ka Reporter - Nirmal Verma
3) Count Zero - William Gibson
4) Monalisa Overdrive - William Gibson
5) Eldest - Christopher Paolini
6) Ravi Paar - Gulzar
7) Luminous - Greg Egan
8) The Eternal Husband and Other Stories - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
9) The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
10) Future Shock - Alvin Toffler
11) Ek Chithda Sukh - Nirmal Verma
12) Freakonomics - Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
13) Next - Michael Crichton
14) Dune -- Frank Herbert
15)Atlas Shrugged -- Ayn Rand
16)Childhood's End -- Arthur C Clarke

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The genre of fantasy

I've always liked fantasy but I have never known that I had liked it so much. I have been casually interested in fairy tales (Chandamama freak) and fantasy and out of the normal stories. But usually I linked it to my generally voracious reading appetite and not to any specific love for the genre as such.

Lord of the Rings somehow made me conscious of this (or should it be Harry Potter 1?). The changes were felt earlier when I went to see this first Harry Potter movie. I had generally a neagative impression of the book just because it had got so popular all of a sudden. But I went to the movie anyway (with Utsav (Tommy), Man and perhaps Sheri, though I don't remember it very well). I kind of liked the movie. Then came the books which I finished as soon as I could. By the time I attended college, I had read all five (or maybe four) books that were out in the market. I wouldn't say I became a huge fan the way some people were, but I loved the books, in particular books 2 and 3. Later instalments looked like a lot of mature, political fundas crammed into an already oversized kid's story which is not bad per se but nothing great either.

In the second semester I read The Lord of the Rings. Having seen the 1st movie before attending college, I had become a semi fan. Needless to say, I was blown over. I read it thrice fully and at one point of time, was trying to write in Elvish and Entish. Then came Eragon (and after a year, The Eldest). I also got to see the work of Tim Burton, Peter Jackson, Terry Gilliam and others. Obviously, I became a huge fan of their works. Tim Burton in particular is probably among the greatest I have seen. Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Batman and Robin, Corpse Bride, Vincent (his early five minute movie), Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (what a great picture) among others. Others random fantasy movies include Mirrormask (random movie), a regular Neil Gaiman scripted dream dominated movie.

But the movie that made me sit back and take notice was El Laberinto Del Fauno (Pan's Labyrinth). A masterful movie, it has probably transcended the genre of Fantasy and Realism both. And no, the conventional name of magic realism is something I wouldn't encourage being invoked. It is gritty, brutal, gruesome and fantastic all together. Definitely not for kids, it still keeps intact the innocence that evil cannot imagine.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Raghu Dixit Project

This is the band that seems to me is the successor of the well known fusion band "Indian Ocean", now that they have become reasonably successful and have moved over in mainstream music. This also means that Indian Ocean do not need me as a die hard fan anymore willing to take up fights with philistines who did not like it. They have a sufficiently large fan following now and others can do this for them. I have moved over, ever cheering the underdog-this time, The Raghu Dixit Project (I know there isn't a 'The' anywhere in the name of the band but I will not resist the temptation).

This band is intensely melodious and rhythmic-things I personally love. I thought their performance in SAC was supremely brilliant and they seem to be some kind of ultra combination of Phish, Dave Matthews Band and Indian Ocean. Kickass to say the least, these guys come in dhotis and ghunghroos and the eponymous front man dances to the tune of his own brilliant danceable and groovy music. Enormously talented!

This guy has to his credit, a Hindustani Classical rendition of "Cocaine", another Indianised (read 'Classicalised') English song "I still love you" and other equally brilliant numbers. The stuff they pulled in Inci is surely going to be circulated by all junta here wherever they can. The Raghu Dixit Project certainly has the following they deserve in NIT S'kal. I recommend this band to anyone even remotely interested in Fusion or music in general.

Songs to look out for:

1) Gudgudiyo Sedi Na Da (Kandu song about Hookah)
2) Mysore Se Aayi (Dhinchak desi gaana)
3) He Bhagwan
4) I Still Love You
5) In Mumbai, Waiting for a Miracle
6) Har Dhadkan Mein ho Tum
7) Khidki

Log on to their website and listen to them. Now!

El Laberinto Del Fauno (Pan's Labyrinth)

This has got to be probably the best movie I have seen in 2006. The only picture that I have not seen and have missed out on is probably "Little Miss Sunshine" that AK keeps bugging me to see. Still, I think I can assert with a fair degree of truthfulness that it should be among the top three movies of 2006.

Roger Ebert says it is a fairy tale for adults. A very fitting one line description. However, it scarce does justice to the great picture that it is. Del Toro has created a veritable masterpiece. Brilliant direction, wonderful performances, tight screenplay and obviously Ivana Baquero as the little Ofelia (what a sweet kid!) make this a truly great picture.

I was once remarking something like this to Pandu: "For some movies/books (or any artform in general) you use the words like 'powerful', 'strong' etc, examples being NEUROMANCER (William Gibson) etc; for others you use words like 'beautiful', 'beautiiifoooooool' etc, examples being SIDEWAYS (Alexander Payne) and the APU TRILOGY (Ray) and yet others for which you use words like 'great' examples being EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO (Guillermo Del Toro). I do not have either the time or the energy to write a complete review and detail the cinematic triumph that I find this movie to be. This post is supposed to be a brief hosanna from a crazed fan, not an astute cinematic dissection by a critic.

Given that many kids (my wingies say one thousand) auditioned for the role and the filmmakers narrowed down their search to one of them, it was pretty certain that the kid will be kickass. But I wasn't prepared for this. Totally brilliant. This kid seems to have an overbearing presense in the movie, even in scenes where she isn't there. That quiet smile of wonderment, that nuanced "Ola" and gentle grief she exudes in the picture is something Meryl Streep will be proud of. Accept a fan's praise!

Also brilliant is the wonderful role of Captain Vidal. The guy looks evil. Real evil.

It is a must for people of all ages, and also for children, even though the picture seems gruesome at points to say the least. It could be an adult fantasy if you are an imaginative adult (oxymoron?), a (diseased?) kid's brilliant imaginative take on events in War ridden Spain or just plain part fantasy, part arbit Director's cut or whatever you might want it to. But it is truly "What a Picture".