Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Very Good Sentences à la Tyler Cowen

From Wikipedia: (see link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jigglypuff)

"Known as the Balloon Pokémon, Jigglypuff evolves from Igglybuff when it reaches a certain point of happiness, and evolves into Wigglytuff when exposed to a Moon Stone."


Since we're on this topic, here's another two-minute gem (courtesy: Bejin Hakumei)

Friday, September 19, 2014

इक नया, हाइकू-नुमा संकल्प

लिखो रोज़ 
वाक्य एक 

Monday, September 15, 2014

This Will Destroy You

Dedh Ishqiya is a veritable blitzkrieg of style, class, wit, wordplay, dark humor and overall brilliance. It's supported by what is certainly the most powerful starcast we've seen in recent years; a killer, killer soundtrack; the sharpest, cleverest, funniest dialogues you'll ever hear; and an exquisite plotline that spans everything from subtle literary nods to the now classic (and once scandalous) Ismat Chugtai short story Lihaaf; to highbrow, classic Urdu poetry, including references to modern masters like Bashir Badr (rendered in flawless diction by all the actors (the last time NF was blown away by such beautiful Urdu woven so seamlessly into a film's narrative was when he'd watched Muhafiz on a boring, never-ending Lucknow afternoon, courtesy Doordarshan)); to bawdy humor, (numerous) Mexican standoffs and its noirish-yet-goofy take on the semi rustic, lawless badlands of UP. 

It seems correct to say that there hasn't been in recent memory, any film that has be so self-aware of its use of language, in the way it consciously hinges its narrative on wordplay and verbal stylization. For a more in-depth piece on the film's use of Urdu, read this fabulous essay by Shoaib Daniyal. Some extracts are reproduced here to incentivize you to read the full article:

In a twist typical of the film, fist fights and gun brandishing suddenly give way to poetry, as Khalujaan picks up the word “wādā” (promise) used by Jaan and starts taunting him using a sher. A gangster by profession and somewhat removed from the world of poetry, Jaan retorts as best he can by racking his brains and coming up with the only sher he knows on “wādā. This change of playing field from violence to poetry, though, can only end badly for Jaan. His verse induces derisive laughter from Khalujaan who then points out that Jaan’s original sher spoke of “bādā” (wine) and not “wādā” at all.
Jaan’s battles with Urdu lead to some curious results. Throughout the movie he uses some high vocabulary (“shamsheer” for “talwār” and “gauhar” for "hīre-motī”) but slips up on the simplest of Urdu words, mispronouncing “Ishq” as “Issak” or “shart” as “sart”. And not only Jaan, for all the other characters, this High Urdu is just a mask put on to impress. Khalujaan, who is otherwise a talented poet, talks to his closest friend Babban in their common earthy register of Bhopali Urdu. 

It is safe to say that the marvelous Dedh Ishqiya totally killed NF! He's still reeling under, grasping the immensity of what's hit him! 

Abhishek Chaubey has directed a film that may just be <*gasp*> even better than his first venture. And with it he joins the ranks of brash, new, extremely exciting young directors in Hindi cinema now - all of them hailing from UP (ha! take that) - Vishal Bharadwaj, Anurag Kashyap and Tigmanshu Dhulia. 

Take a bow Chaubey! You've converted NF into your total fanboy!

Monday, September 08, 2014

शांतता! कोर्ट चालू आहे

Chaitanya Tamhane's film "Court" wins two prizes at the Venice Film Festival 2014 - Best Picture in the Horizons section and the 'Lion of the Future' for best debut! Here is the Hindustan Times news report. Here is a glowing review by Variety.

NF's old friend Somnath Pal was part of the winning team and did production design for the award winning movie! (Follow his blog here.)

Bravo Somnath! And congratulations!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Quiet Flows the Don

Libra is quintessential DeLillo - terse-without-being-minimalist, exquisitely paced, wonderfully evocative without being overly descriptive; and very powerfully unsettling, although NF believes he has not quite understood the book on a satisfactory level yet, that more readings perhaps are required to understand why the book moves him the way it does.

Having become somewhat familiar with DeLillo's oeuvre now (White Noise, Underworld, Point Omega and now, Libra) NF has begun to appreciate the infrastructure of his worldview - that of technology, mass media and political violence arrogating to themselves, the role of mediating our narrative; our collective, worldwide conversation - a role played in the past by writers and intellectuals like Dickens or Tolstoy. NF has come to feel that it is DeLillo's powerful influence, much more than that of the wordy and maximalist Pynchon's, that pervades the pages of William Gibson, sharing as they both do, their desire to channel the emergent effect of technology's impact on human societies. (Gibson's insistence however, is more cosmopolitan and hard-tech obsessed, while DeLillo's theater is more literary, soft-tech Americana.)

NF also had a chance to read his autobiography, albeit a mere seven word one, courtesy the wonderful Brain Pickings of Maria Popova. (For other seven word autobiographies including those by William Gibson and Daniel Kahneman, visit here.) Here it is, typifying the simplicity and depth of his expression:

      Bronx boy
             why he is here.

DeLillo also participated in a BBC documentary about his work (though it seems surprising that someone who's so averse to publicity will have starred in it so prominently). In it, the writer comments about the themes that attract him, the strange coincidence that links him to Lee Harvey Oswald (spoiler: The Bronx) among other musings and reenactment of scenes from his fiction. Watch it here:

NF's playlist now features Ratner's Star, Mao II and Cosmopolis next and enjoins those with an excess of time, to give DeLillo a try!