Wednesday, April 16, 2008

55 Reasons for a Great Nabo Barsho

It started in the bookstore of the Calcutta Airport.
About to leave for our annual vacation to Assam, I badgered my father into buying me a comic book to read on the hour-long flight. He agreed and after browsing through the usual gamut of Amar Chitra Katha and Indrajal Comics, I decided on a title that I had never seen before.
It was about a tuft-haired boy reporter, his foul-mouthed sailor friend and an absent-minded professor. It was about going to the moon in a beautiful red-and-white checkered rocket. The name was Explorers On The Moon.
The comic book was printed on thick paper, bound in glossy covers and looked like nothing that my collection consisted of.
I wanted it. I HAD to have it. I don't remember (know?) the price of the comic but it would have been several times the price of an affordable Indrajal Comic or Amar Chitra Katha.
And my father bought it for me. My mother threw a fit when she saw the price but my father just shrugged.

That was the beginning of my love affair with Tintin, Captain Haddock, Snowy and the gang. After a point, I even knew Cutts' the Butcher's phone number.
And this was after a painstaking collection of various titles in the series, borrowing many, begging for some but thankfully never stealing any!
In between, I graduated to Asterix and started to appreciate the subtle humour, historical references and evolved artwork.
And my collection expanded. But it was never close to completion.

A few posts ago, I frivolously mentioned that I wanted to buy the entire Asterix + Tintin Collection available on IndiaPlaza.
And I even started it off by buying a double digest of the first two Tintin adventures - Tintin In the Land of Soviets and Tintin in Congo - while waiting for a flight at Pune airport.
I even prepared a mental list of the ones I have and the balance ones I have to get. I gave myself one year to complete the set.

Today, my wife called to say that a big box was waiting for me. I am a total sucker for surprises so I just could not wait to get home.
And when I opened the box, this is what it contained.

This is my Nabo Barsho gift from my father. Today, he completed the cycle he himself had started some three decades back.

33 Asterix and 22 Tintin titles would be mouth-watering for any comic fan. But when you realise that it also means that there is somebody to spoil you silly even at 33, it just takes your breath away!

Updated to add: And you know what's perfect? The only two titles missing in this whole set are the ones I bought last week at the Pune airport!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bollywood Numbers

How many different numbers are represented in the Bollywood filmography? Here is my quick take. Now, others can fill in the blanks.

Awwal Number - Dev Anand's take on cricket and my favourite movie on the sport. The first movie in which Aamir Khan hit a six off the last ball.

Do Kaliyaan - (Baby) Neetu Singh's double role in a movie, which was copied by Hollywood in the late 90's movie, The Parent Trap.
There was another Parent Trap in the 60's? What rubbish?

Teen Deviyaan - Dev Anand's love quadrilateral with Nanda, Kalpana Kartik and Simi Garewal vying for his attention. The man's delusions were as legendary as his tilt!

Char-as - I may not be able to think of a film with 4 in its title but Charas at least starts with it! (In another week's time, we can add Krazzy 4 to this list.) Dharmendra and Hema Malini at their peaks, in an international drug smuggling story (with a mother angle!), directed by Ramanand Sagar.

Paanch - Anurag Kashyap's biggest hit that never was. Kay Kay Menon and Shivangi Kolhapure's explosive debut which never exploded.
If you think this is cheating (since the movie never released), I also have Hum Paanch and Five Rifles up my sleeve.

Satte Pe Satta - The supposed copy of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers had such a punchy screenplay (complete with a double role and a sub-plot) that it never ages even after millions of re-runs on TV.

Nau Do Gyarah - Dev Anand's comic caper, loosely based on It Happened One Night. It had the lovely 'Hum hain raahi pyaar ke' song which was played in the background of a Dil Hain Ke Manta Nahin scene and eventually got made into a film as well. Mahesh Bhatt and/or Aamir Khan must have developed a special liking for it.

Dus - Terrorist saga with brotherly sentiments thrown in for family audiences. Abhishek became seriously starry material after this film, which was neither his earliest nor his biggest hit.
While on the subject, let me recommend Dus Kahaniyaan - which I caught on a Kingfisher flight - as a brilliant but under-praised film.

From now on onwards, it is better move on a logarithmic scale as the only numerical film I can think between 12-99 is Umar Pachpan Ka, Dil Bachpan Ka. (Another 55!)

100 Days - I have already dwelled immensely on th subject of Hundreds. Including this film. So, I will not repeat myself.

Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi - Sudhir Mishra's take on college idealism of the Naxalite era going on to cynicism of the real world. I personally feel is an over-hyped film. It was good but not as good as it was made out to be.

Inaam Dus Hazaar - Sanjay Dutt on the run, with a reward of Rs 10000 on his head - how did you guess? There was a CID officer on his trail and Meenakshi Sheshadri in tow. A moderately interesting comedy caper, which you have to catch on a Tuesday evening while you are waiting for pizza and the TV remote is in the kitchen.

Lakhon Ki Baat - An unusual theme for Indian cinema, this one was about an 'ambulance-chaser' lawyer (Sanjeev Kumar) who gets his friend (Farooque Sheikh) to exaggerate an injury which he sustained while at work and get compensation for the same. BTW, the only thing I remember is that he was a journalist and the 'work' was photographing a women's hockey match. Chak De India was not the pioneering film on that sport, then!

Crorepati - There is no film of this name (to the best of my knowledge). Though Rakesh Roshan has the title Karodpati registered with him. However, in an interesting aside, this was the name of the film that was being shot in Ajanta-Ellora when Feluda & Co. were there for Koilashey Kelenkari! Ray had a knack for having brilliant names for Bollywood films in his books - Jet Bahadur was another!

Anybody can think of films with 6 or 8 in their names?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

627, 76...

Less than a week back, the Indian cricket team scored a chanceless 627 in one test innings. Leading the charge was one Mr Virendra Sehwag, who scored 319. Such was his dominance that the lowest he had scored in any one session was 88 runs.
Today, the entire Indian team scored 76 in their completed innings.
(The Hindi media erupted in a series of poetic headlines. Hindustan came up with two - one in rhyme and the other in alliteration. "Twenty20 ke sher / Twenty overs mein dher" and "Chhe sau run banane wale chhihattar mein chhitraaye".)

Ardent Cricinfo fans should try to find out if there are any instances of a team having a difference of 550 runs in successive innings. My guess is that there aren't any.
And that is exactly why filmstars fall over each other to buy cricket teams, entire cities wear Dhoni masks and buffoons like Navjyot S Sidhu are the highest paid stars on television.

And I - like countless other fans - remain hooked on to this game because we have no fucking clue that who will be the highest scorer in the next innings... Sehwag? Or Pathan?

As the wise guy asked, "Last moment tak pata nahin chalega ki batsman kaun hain aur bowler kaun?"

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pun is Mightier than the Word

This post is because of a quote – A day without a pun is like a day without sunshine. There is gloom for improvement. Having been to the Brand Equity Quiz, I thought of writing about a guy and his girlfriend, both of whom were ardent quizzers. They were quite active in the Calcutta quizzing circuit.
Their general knowledge was fantastic. Armed with their GK and love for each other, the couple won every major quiz in Calcutta. This continued for a few years when tragedy struck and the girl died in a bus accident on her way to Digha. The boy was shattered by this tragedy and stopped quizzing altogether.
His friends were upset that he had given up something so dear to him. They wanted him to brush up his GK and start participating in quizzes once again. But every time somebody asked him to do so, he had only one word to say - "Jab dil hi toot gaya, hum GK kya karengey..."

Ah - nothing to break the humdrum of life better than with a good pun! While at it, I might as well tell you about the sleeping animals - a man and a dog. A man dreams that he is writing The Lord of the Rings but actually he is only Tolkien in his sleep!

Another man had a dog. Every night the dog used to shout in his sleep - "I am Bill Gates... I discovered Penicillin... I play the mandolin..." and so on. Despite having such a strange pet, the man always remained unperturbed. After all, he knew that it is always better to let sleeping dogs lie.

Did you hear about three Hollywood superstars making a film on the great Western composers? There was considerable debate on which star gets which role. Eventually, there was some consensus and Stallone said, "I will be Beethoven." Tom Cruise said, "I will be Mozart." At which point, Schwarzenegger spoke up - "I will be Bach."

Updated to add: Guess how many words in each paragraph?