Cheating on Vikram

and Sartaj and Ganesh.

I was thrilled last year when I got hold of a copy of Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games shortly after it was released, and resolved to go back to reading before sleep each night.

 Cheating on Vikram

But work and waking hours grew longer and longer, sleep became more and more elusive, add to that dozens of films watched, and soon the book was parked on my nightstand.   No reflection on the story or the writer, there just aren’t enough hours in a day right now.

With wallet, Palm, make-up, notebook (the paper kind), iPod, work papers, apple, mobile phone, mints, hairy eared dwarf lemur (huh ?) all being borne by one shoulder or another in my work bag, ferrying the three Bombay Boys and their hardcover home with me to and from the office every day was out of the question.

And so, at fortnightly intervals I Xeroxed several chapters at a time, and, harkening back to the weekly serialization from the days  of Dickens, I’ve been submerged in photocopied chapters of the sprawling cops-and-robbers tale, reveling in all the filmi references and savoring passages like this one (from a night when Inspector Sartaj Singh and his colleague Katekar are on a stake-out, talking while they wait for some goondas to appear):

…Sartaj nodded.   All this was true, and it was a restful pleasure to lie under a thela and complain.   They had already complained about the municipality, corporators, transfers of honest civil servants and policemen, expensive mangoes, traffic, too much construction, collapsing buildings, clogged drains, unruly and uncivilized Parliament, extortion by Rakshaks, bad movies, nothing worthwhile to watch on television, American interference in subcontinental affairs, the disappearance of Rimzim from soft-drink stands, inter-state quarreling over river waters, the lack of good English-language schools for children whose parents didn’t have truckloads of money, the depiction of police on the movie screen, long unpaid hours on the job, the job, and the job.   When you had complained enough about everything else, there was always the job, with its unspeakable hours, its monotony, its political complications, its thanklessness, its exhaustion.

It’s been a great ride so far, and I’ve just crossed the halfway mark.   I dread finishing it, because I love disappearing into the stories and hearing about Sartaj’ and Ganesh’s lives, though the monogamy is starting to take its toll.   Is Sacred Games going to be the only book I’ll read in 2007??

Well, maybe not.   For the shortest of time, I’m having the literary equivalent of a dirty weekend, barreling my way through a quick read: Jessica Hines’ very recent release Looking for the Big B: Bollywood, Bachchan and Me.

I’ve read several critiques of the book, and  many, like this one, complain about the excess of Hines and the scarcity of Bachchan, and it’s true, it’s really a book about the intent of writing a biography.   In between all the I-me-my, there are some revelations about  the leggy patriarch of the film industry, and she gets tremendous access to him, at times.

There are some humorous passages, which have been a welcome diversion this past week, sitting at the bedside of an ill parent in hospital.   On the subject of the power that a famous actor’s assistant and other staff wield, vis-a-vis to whom they  grant access to the celebrity, she writes:

I think there must be Star Servant Training Courses where the object of the telephone exercise is to frustrate anyone on the other end of the line to the point of apoplexy.   Points would be given to the trainee servant who managed to make callers actually go purple, and first prize would go to the truly obstreperous who could make the caller collapse on the floor sobbing, having lost the will to live.

…trying to get to talk to the stars is like cutting through loft insulation with a pair of nail scissors.

But she does gain entrée to Amitabh’s home, and world.  

Of Bachchan Sr.’s office, she writes:

…you reach it by going up a flight of stairs past walls hung with hundreds of photos of Amitabh and his son Abhishek (but mainly of Amitabh).   Going into someone’s house or office and being confronted by hundreds of photos of them might be alarming, but then Amitabh is often everywhere you look outside his house too so the whole continuous-flow effect works.

As I read about her visits to Bombay, KL, the Malaysian highlands, and Dubai, in pursuit of The Big B, two thoughts occurred to me.   First, I couldn’t help but wonder  if  Mrs. B back in  Bombay has no qualms about her hubby having dinner alone together night after night after night in the  over-the-top Burj Al-Arab, with a clearly smitten woman half his age.  

And second, I found myself remembering  the hilarious fictitious account  written by Maruja Torres called “Oh! Es  él!   Viaje fantastico hacia Julio Iglesias” [Oh!   It's him!   Fantastic voyage to Julio Iglesias].  

In that 1986 novel, the  heroine, who writes for a Hello! type magazine in Spain, is sent on the  assignment of a lifetime, to follow Julio Iglesias to the US for his  musical tour, and gain access  to the Spanish dreamboat, for a big  interview.   It’s a great spoof on the “pink press”, as that niche of magazines are referred to, and of the Galician crooner to boot.

So, Looking for the Big B may not be In the Afternoon of Time, but, depending on  how much you know about the industry and the actor already,  and to what extent the excess of Ms. Hines presence in her own book will (or will not) bother you, it can be a light, fun read, where you may learn a few things you didn’t know before, about Amitabh and others in the industry.

jessica%20hines%20big%20b Cheating on Vikram

Sit down and take off your shirt

 Sit down and take off your shirt  

SRK to Salman, in the last episode of KBC.

What more is there to say?

I can’t help it…

abhiwarya I cant help it...

I’ve got wedding fever.

It’s non-stop on Star News and NDTV, the cars driving in and out of Jalsa, the honivallee Mrs. 2.0′s doli arriving, the glimpses of the alternating dark and light green fabric adorning the entryway inside the gates, the strings and strings of lights, even from the Rai family apartment building, yes, from a height of 20 or 30 stories down to the ground, first time I’ve ever seen that.

CNN-IBN has some great pics here.   Check out Ash’s folks’ house (La Mer, la-di-da)  and the flowers around the gate of the Bachchan residence.     Purty……..

And to put just a few grains of namak in the wound,  just learned that a friend was invited, but due to work commitments, is missing at least part of it.

The sangeet is today.   That’s one party I’d like to crash…

Just hope AB 2.0 makes like Hillary, and loses the headband.   Basta ya, m’ijo, please.

Coming soon: Amu

konkona%20sola Coming soon:  Amu  

Saw a screening of the Shonali Bose film tonight, with Konkona Sensharma in the lead role.

It releases in the U.S. next month, starting in NY on May 25, and in LA on June 15.

Stay tuned for a review and more in the next few weeks.

Shakalaka Boom Boom

poster Shakalaka Boom Boom

Awful.   Boring.   Repetitious.   Everyone looks bad.  

Bobby Deol’s a musician who’s driven to extremes by his jealousy for Upen Patel (who acts mainly with his shoulders).   Kangana Ranaut and Celina Jaitley are the interchangeable bimbettes.  

I was left with so many questions.

Why does Celina wear so much eyeliner that she looks like this:

ellen%20racoon%20eyes Shakalaka Boom Boom

Why is Bobby Deol, a top pop musician, hanging around with two “pillars”, as he calls them, who have a shared age between them of at least 110?   Isn’t the pop music biz supposed to be all about hip-n-happening young people?

Why does Bobby’s Guru-ji just stand there, comatose, with his mouth hanging open?   If Bobby respects him so much, surely the man must utter some words of wisdom now and then?

Why does Upen Patel have this dorky Son of Frankenstein side-part hair-dodon’t:

upen%20bad%20hair Shakalaka Boom Boom

See it or skip it?

Run as far as you can in the opposite direction.

I usually find something to like in most Hindi movies, but, aside from the one song picturization with Upen Patel shirtless in the desert, that was vaguely reminiscent of a Calvin Klein underwear ad, even I couldn’t find anything that saved this bomb.   (Ah, now I understand the title….)

Worth a smile at least

Several women and one very (c)lean guy.