Friday, August 29, 2008

W(h)ither Now

Link to news that Virgin Comics is shutting down.

I had blogged last summer about the Indian Comic Book Revolution and how awesome the new titles -- Devi, Sadhu and Ramayan 3392 AD seemed. However, as I discovered, along with Somnath, that the later issues were done in a very non-serious and lazy way, (as if the team were pulling a night-out just before the morning of the deadline) my enthusiasm shrank. There was deterioration in every department -- sketching, inking, story, character development.

And now they're shutting down.


Somnath, the ball is in your court now.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

जबसे मिली है मोहब्बत

The song's catchy and the dance steps, positively infectious. Titled "World's most pathetic dance", it has to be seen to be believed.

Courtesy: "Pyaasi Raat", the movie.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Doggy Style

The great Anurag Kashyap's next venture will be a superhero movie. It will star Kunal Kapoor. And here is where it gets totally awesome -- it will be based on the violent Raj comic book series Doga, which I have had the pleasure of reading as a kid and blogging as a fan.

Link to news item

I am sure Kashyap's version will kick ass. He should be able to preserve the murky origins of the superhero and do justice to the gory and violent nature of his retributions.

All hail the great man!

Link -- Doga on Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Confessions of an Addict: The God that Died

Warning: Long post.

<*Nanga Fakir stands on the podium looking very pensive. Lifts a glass of water and drinks up. Eyes his audience with a heavy heart*>

Nanga Fakir: In the last part, I had reached the point when the Russian Fever had arrested the then thirteen year old Nanga Fakir. Indeed, good sense demands that I continue with the story of his addiction and describe the events that followed after the The Idiot fell into the hands of our little hero. However, a recent development has made me change my mind.

<*Confused murmers from the audience*>

Nanga Fakir: I have received word that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died yesterday. So instead, I will talk about him today.


It was the vacations after high school. Nanga Fakir was in Gorakhpur with his brother who went by the name of Shashikar Bhaiya (who was every bit an addict as NF was, and perhaps more). The talk veered off to the books that the cousins were reading those days and very casually a new Russian name was slipped in by the older brother.

Little Nanga Fakir:

Not so little Shashikar Bhaiya: Solzhenitsyn. The book is called The First Circle. You know, he's a pretty marvellous writer. Even though he is alive, his books are already considered classics.

Little Nanga Fakir: What's this book about?

Not so little Shashikar Bhaiya: Oh there is hardly any story. Its just political prisoners sitting together and talking. You know, very thought refining.

Been thus introduced to His Magisterial Awesomeness, Nanga Fakir put this book on the playlist isntantly.

Some years passed by. In the meantime, Nanga Fakir had decided to break out of his addiction and had awarded himself a voluntary exile from the Addiction Kingdom.

But then he had also befriended Somnath Pal, who (like the true Bong that he was) had access to the secret archival library of the Ramakrishna Math and who one arbit day announced that he had indeed located the Book.

<*A wry smile spreads across Nanga Fakir's face. He takes off his glasses (when the fuck did he start wearing them? Ah, the phony bastard!) and rubs his eyes unhurriedly, perhaps for dramatic effect*>

Nanga Fakir: You know a junkie never quits. He takes a break. And very soon, he had in his hands the tattered old copy of The First Circle. Within two days, he gorged this six hundred page tome and ecstatically went to his friends and sang songs about how awe-fucking-some the book was. Obviously, the friends didn't care shit about either the book or the author. They listened him out semi-patiently though and soon left baffled, the dismayed asshole who couldn't understand the tepid, don't-give-a-fuck attitude of fellow humans.

As revenge, he wished their private parts would melt away the night before the JEE exam.

Soon, the exams got over and NF decided to go book hunting with Somnath Pal and entered the famous portals of Ram Advani book depot in Hazratganj, Lucknow. Their talk about books and which one to read/buy was overheard by the old man who was in charge. Very soon, Mr Naseer was sufficiently impressed by the phony, third rate glib litgiri NF is so known for spewing out. They came out of the store with an overpriced Sons and Lovers and some books from Naseer's personal collection which included 1984, Animal Farm, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and some more.

One Day... was different from The First Circle in that it was more descriptive of the life led by zeks in Gulags.The First Circle was almost Science Fiction. Heavily philosophical, unwaveringly bleak and unapologetically dystopic, The First Circle was Russian literature at its gloomy best. And so was One Day... but the scope of the gloom was limited, for it covered only one day in the life of Ivan Denisovich.

With the aid of Somnath, soon Nanga Fakir acquired Cancer Ward and devoured it like a hungry dog. Still unsatisfied, he managed to locate the first volume of the author's most celebrated work -- The Gulag Archipelago in Blossoms, Bangalore during his third year in Surathkal.

Of all of Solzhenitsyn's books, this was the one that shook him most deeply. Heavily suffused with gallows humour, it is the most rigorous, intelligent, brilliantly researched and meticulous indictment of any historical regime ever in human history -- a task that seems impossibly great given the fact that innumerable roadblocks were cast in the path of the mathematician-turned-writer and that many a time, he was banned from using the archives (most of which were classified anyway). And this was just Volume 1! Despite his best efforts, Nanga Fakir has yet not been able to locate/read Volumes 2 and 3 of Gulag Archipelago.

Indeed he had blogged about The Gulag Archipelago (Volume 1) previously too. Those who really want to pay their tributes to the great man are advised to read the above link.

<*Overwhelmed, Nanga Fakir takes his phony glasses off. A tear (perhaps glycerine?) floats down his cheek*>

Nanga Fakir: Let's remain silent for two minutes in the memory of The God that Died yesterday.

<*Half a minute of an uncomfortable, enforced silence is broken by farts and the voices of children crying. NF becomes furious*>

Nanga Fakir: You all deserve to die assholes!

(Weak Voice): "It's you who is the asshole. You said you were going to talk about Solzhenitsyn. But you talked about yourself all the time. How YOU discovered him, how YOU liked him, how YOU became a fan, how YOU blogged about him some days ago. You miserable piece of shit, you deserve this."

<*Flings a leather boot towards the podium. Nanga Fakir sees it coming but is too lazy to move aside. The boot hits his nose and he is knocked out. Security men run to his aid and there is pandemonium in the auditorium*>

End of Part 2

Link: Solzhenitsyn dies on 3rd August 2008 (NY Times Obituary).

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Confessions of an Addict: Buildup to The Russian Fever

WARNING: Long Post.


Nanga Fakir: Hello folks! I am Nanga Fakir.

"Hello Nanga Fakir".

Nanga Fakir: I am an addict.

(Weak voice) "Sure honey, go ahead".

Nanga Fakir: I guess it was innate. Something that I had been born with. Some affliction which seals your fate even before you're born. I have long suspected a genetic basis for many of the ailments that I suffer from -- pessimism, cynicism, depression, fondness for black humour and scatological jokes, boredom, nausea, laziness, aversion to pets etc. A new item has been added to the list. It is addiction.

<*glances nervously at the audience and smiles in confusion*>

<*the audience eyes him full of compassion, feigned perhaps*>

Nanga Fakir: This will not be an intelligent account. It will be an erratic recollection at best.

<*audience nods in encouragement*>

Nanga Fakir: Perhaps it started with comics. The cheap, sold-on-the-roadside stuff one could rent for a night. Many a day would pass while the infant NF would read about the adventures of Bankelal under the slanting rays of the sun, oblivious to all worries of the outside world.

The fascination continued. With Chandamama captivating him in its fantastic yarns of ancient empires, beautiful princesses, wicked sorcerers and powerful yogis, NF would get transported to parallel universes where he would commandeer armies and humble the most powerful by his wisdom and magic.

Then came the crucial discovery of the book that took his world by storm -- Chandrakanta. The masterful suspense, the ancient empires, the mazes and labyrinths, the tilisms, and the aiyyars made the normally quiet, introspective kid exclaim in hushed reverence -- "This is the greatest book that has ever been written."

He hunted for, and soon read the six parts of the Chandrakanta Santati series. And since the supply of comics/books dried up due to reason not remembered, he reread all the seven books of the series one after the other -- again and again and again.

His appetite grew by leaps and bounds. Reading books was all that he would do, drawn irresistibly to the yellowed pages and the smell of the moth eaten papers. He felt an almost carnal pleasure in watching the pages turn and the content reveal itself. He read without purpose, goals, plans, or ulterior motives. His addiction had begun then.

Come 8th standard and he gave his school library a not indifferent look. Lurking in the glass panelled shelves, he saw along with his friend who went by the name of Man, a collection of stories by Soviet writers. He came back promptly the next day to return the book and look for more. A book by the name of Mother caught his attention. "Ah, another Russian book!", he said to himself and got it issued.

This started what he now refers to as The Russian Fever. Very soon he had on his hands Anna Karenina which, although he did not understand in its entirety, hit him with a force that he had not thought possible.

By now, Nanga Fakir would read books simply because the cover jacket of the book would look sexy. The pubescent kid would get aroused in the wrong regions of his body due to the wrong reasons and he would not notice this till the time to remedy the situation was too far gone past.

And then it happened. During one of his rounds of the school library, he noticed a fat, white book squeezed between two fatter tomes. He decided to investigate.

The book smelled funny. It was written by a Russian guy with an unpronounceable name and the translation was by some female called Olga Shartse. The book was called "The Idiot (part one)". He decided to give it a try since the book cover was sexy, the smell was different and the writer was Russian.

He stood in line to get the book issued. The librarian looked at him wearily. She saw a frail, undersized kid holding a book that weighed heavier than him. "You're sure you want to get this issued?", she asked. "Yes ma'am", came the prompt answer. Slowly and methodically, all entries were made and signatures acquired. And at the end of it all, the book came into Nanga Fakir's possession.

End of Part 1

<*no longer nervous, Nanga Fakir ends his account with the audience clapping enthusiastically. he smiles confidently to all those present and is happy with his performance*>

(Weak Voice) "By all means, your account was fascinating and engrossing. But why do you talk in third person? At times it is irritating to hear you say 'Nanga Fakir felt this...' etc etc."

Nanga Fakir: Hey fuck you bitch!