Kucch EpicFail Jaisa

That’s what sums up the movie Kucch Luv Jaisa. And, someone should point out to Shifali Shah that the spelling changes have taken her acting chops away from her. Rahul Bose perhaps laughed at the script that wanted him to speak in mono syllables and sometimes grunt. Neetu Chandra is actually a redundant presence and, the rest of the cast should use this as a lesson in their acting careers about what not to do.

The premise is simple. Madhu (Shah) realizes that her family (2 children and husband) have forgotten her birthday (on the 29th of February) and thereafter decides to spend the day doing her own thing (‘a new beginning’). During her doing things she bumps into Raghav (Bose) whom she mistakes (needlessly I might add) for a detective (who, however, is actually on the run from the police, having being turned in by his girlfriend Chandra) and, who also shares a birthday with her (29th February again). They go around the city behind an imaginary ‘client’/target (and, yet there are moments, the city doesn’t become anything but a background) and finally things unravel etc.

The story had potential. However, the actors try too hard (including, horror of horrors, Makrand Deshpande) and, inane conversations (the dialogue segment between Madhu and her daughter at the end for example) that are simply to brain-dead to be in a movie ruin stuff. It is a very hurriedly done movie. As if the idea was going to float away if it wasn’t captured on celluloid.

On The Simple Pleasures of Rereading

The other day Nikhil posted a link to this article titled “The Guilty Pleasures of Rereading“.

The blurb quote was interesting:

Come on now, it’s never about the new meanings you grasp each time revisit a book. It’s the comfort of the same old story and the same old characters and the same old ending, every single time

Upon rereading the piece it appears that Arunava may have actually penned this half in jest. Reading a text is as much as reading the words as it is trying to read what isn’t in the exact words by underneath. And thus, the act of reading is an act of exploration of cognitive abilities. The text and the sub-text reveal layers based on the expansion of reasoning ability and assimilation of experiences of the reader. An author may not specifically be attempting to address this space when the narrative is being weaved but eventually, the likes/dislikes of the audiences center around this specific point – whether they are able to accept, adapt and assimilate the psyche and the experiences in the story.

I reread a lot. And, besides the need to find ‘comfort’ in the same old characters and the same old story, the primary need is to understand. A typical example could be Gitanjali. 

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life


আমারে তুমি অশেষ করেছ,   এমনি লীলা তব–
ফুরায়ে ফেলে আবার ভরেছ,   জীবন নব নব ॥

In a Bengali household, the kid would be having access to Gitanjali at a fairly and, I say, ridiculously early stage in life. It takes a leap of perception and experiences to understand and appreciate the above lines.

The reason we reread isn’t to experience the memories of where and when we first read that piece of text (hell ! for me it would be the unpleasant stench of adulterated diesel fumes at the 8B bus stand at Kolkata for most pieces of text !). We reread because we want to assimilate the experiences in the text with the abilities and understanding and more importantly, the acceptance we have of reality. We want to fit it into our mental map of the world as we see it at that point in time. Surprisingly for an author, and, a translator, Arunava decides to give this point a skip and wax eloquent about Flury’s and all that is fluffy. Rereading books isn’t exactly similar to having a pot of mishti doi. And, even in that stupendously shallow example, try feeding that doi to a 6 month old kid, a 6 year old, a 16 year old and a 60 year old at various times of the year – you’d bet that they will respond differently each time. Tactile experiences, including reading experiences are different. That an author doesn’t want to write about it is astounding. That an author passes somewhat snide remarks is equally absurd. If all that a reread does is take you back to the first time, then as a reader you’ve failed. And the author needs other serious readers than you.

The lack of good reviews.

I was looking through this review and noticed a strange thing – the original reviewer found his/her own review “helpful”. Either burrp.com is slipping up or, they don’t appear to give a rodent’s posterior to user reviews. I tend to think that it is the latter. Else reviews like these along with some like these shouldn’t actually get posted if they haven’t gone through a bit of spelling, grammar and accuracy checks by the site editors. The abominable spelling bits is not limited to this site though. A quick glance through most of the ones on tripadvisor reveal the same trend. Which brings up the question as to why the text input area doesn’t offer a default spell-check. Don’t the sites care for the quality of the reviews ?

Speaking of quality of the reviews, burrp.com could perhaps start using a template. Personally, if I am going to look up an eating joint there are a few things I am curious about :

  • quality of food – was it ‘memorable’ ? As in, would you visit it again with friends ?
  • quantity of food – was it ‘tiny piece of chicken on a huge plate’ ? Or, would you say that it was good enough as expected ?
  • hygiene/cleanliness – cutlery, crockery, upholstery and the rest-rooms
  • ambience – how is the place ? noisy/relaxed/smoky etc
  • kind of food – is the menu treading on ‘safe ground’ ? Or, does it allow you to indulge in something out of the ordinary ?
  • service – is the service snappy or, snobbish ? Do they listen to what you were saying ?
  • time of the day – what time of the day did you visit ?
  • your meal – what did you order ? How was it presented ?

That’s probably the basic list of stuff that should be there. Most of the time the reviews are either gushing with misdirected praise or, seething with inappropriate anger. Will these sites ever shape up and fix things ? I don’t think so. Not unless they see an alternative site coming up with enough eyeball power to goad them into healing themselves.

Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives

I picked this book yesterday because I was reading a blog post (which I don’t recall now) and it had a reference to the book.

To quote from the blurb of the book

How can an 11-year old boy hear a Mozart fantasy for the first time and play it back note-for-note perfectly-but struggle to navigate the familiar surroundings of his own home? Cathleen Lewis says her son Rex’s laugh of total abandon is the single most joyous sound anyone could hear, but his tortured aversion to touch and sound breaks her heart and makes her wonder what God could have had in mind. In this book she shares the mystery of Rex and the highs, lows, hopes, dreams, joy, sorrows, and faith she has journeyed through with him.

That, in short, sums up what the book is about. The length made it absolutely perfect for reading within the day. The prose isn’t the best possible one. At places it does tend to repeat itself. However, the path of discovery, faith and hopes that it weaves is difficult to miss. It is, as mostly they are, an inspirational and uplifting story. A story of triumph, strength, faith and belief. And, that’s why it is a recommended read.


Can Flipkart fix some of these ?

Instead of the sporadic “@Flipkart I don’t like this or, that” on twitter, I decided to write down what exactly I would like to see happening to the site over a period of time.

When I buy books I usually know which specific book I am looking for. If that is the case, then either the book is found through a search or, it is a recent book and hence it will be visible via the Recently Sold, New Release or, Pre-Orders sections.

Sometimes there are books that are in a series and, I want to buy either the set of books in the series or, a specific book in the series. Two examples come to mind – if I want to purchase the Kurt Wallander novels. I can either pick a specific book in the series or, desire to buy the entire series through a single click. The common data point in this example is the author and that it is a set in the Kurt Wallander series. Unfortunately, currently they don’t make themselves available as the boxed deals etc.

Or, take another example – O’Reilly has a set of books with the title “Beautiful …” these include Beautiful Testing, Beautiful Architecture, Beautiful Visualization etc. All these books have different author/author pairs. The commonality is that it is published by O’Reilly/SPD. In other words, I need to be able to use this piece of information as a data item and select the books. As of now, I don’t think the site allows this to happen.

Another item is around the display of books/covers in either list or, grid form. The current upper limit is 20 items. When looking through books by Category (which, by the way, requires some bit of fixing), it is perhaps a better option to let more covers come up in either an infinte scroll or, something around 70 per page. That allows a quicker visual comprehension of the books and, less click-through to the next pages.

I have a request for the cart as well. I buy books for myself as well as send them as gifts to others. I am sure others do so as well. What is a little bit annoying is that the cart (and this isn’t just a problem with Flipkart’s cart only, but the usage pattern impacts it the most) doesn’t allow me to save a transaction and open up a new transaction for someone else. I guess what I am asking for is the ability to save the state of a transaction while opening up and completing a new one. Currently I maintain two accounts to get this usage pattern going 🙂

That ‘relevance of Tagore’ meme

The week leading up to 25th of Boishakh and, the week thereafter has a pattern – every newspaper and magazine worth their newsprint will have at least one article pondering over the relevance of Tagore in the current age. Long time ago, during an evening session on the ‘rawk’, during one of those innumerable power outages that plagued Calcutta, a senior in the group remarked that if you don’t ponder about the relevance of drinking water in the current age, why waste space over Tagore. And although said in that semi-sarcastic and semi-jest tone it does hit home.

A person who is a Bengali encounters Tagore right at the start with his set of primers called Sahaj Path. That age is a bit too early to appreciate the artwork that dominates the primers but it does blend in so well with the text that they become one. And thereafter at various stages – be it at local functions or, private get togethers, there would be a mandatory reading/recitation/singing of his works. Sooner or later it would be obvious that Tagore’s works, especially his verses not only span the current emotions but provide various facets and insights for the same emotions in words and forms that are unique and sometimes new. The songs that are merely songs for a young chap soon start taking the depth of meaning as one gets older. For a breadth of work that spans such depth and creativity, the need to even think about ‘relevance’ is a bit awkward. It is certain that the overpowering presence of Tagore on Bengali literature led to various ‘alternative movements’. At each stage of such forks, the need to question his relevance wasn’t felt – the need was to explore areas which he had failed to explore – in styles, forms, functions and composition.

The next year will bring another harvest of the relevance meme. Till then … 😉