WE are the BHAIs…Bollywood Gangsters getting Hotter…

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image from ourbollywood

I just saw “Shootout in Lokhandwala” and the action scenes are getting more and more akin to Guy Richie gangster flicks and full of violent stunt scenes that impress and raise the bar….there were….gun fights, exploding gas cylinder tanks, fist fights with a light bulb, a tv set crashing down screen-first over someone’s head and a squashed head over the side of the pavement borrowed from American History X. And it seems like directors are leaning more towards using heavy metal riffs and rock ballads (such as in Life in a Metro 2007) as a musical score than the more passé quivering violins .

But more importantly…have you noticed that Desi Gangsters are getting hotter? A new wave of Gangster films has been sweeping the Indian film industry and they seem to be getting slicker each time. Ram Gopal Varma’s “Sarkar” 2005 was inspired by The Godfather and had that sweeping operatic feel to it but…and King Khan’s remake of Amitabh’s “Don” 2006 produced a slicker, more metropolitan kind of mob boss….but I still like my gangsters old school… And yeah…its seems like “cool” is getting formally redefined into a more seedy, red light district, local vernacular…

ok so we know all the actors are rich boys trying on a mirch masala Lokhandwala bad boy act…but what I like about it is its brand of gangster without the Hiphop dance moves and gear that many mainstream Bollywood dance sequences tend to incorporate…don’t get me wrong…that NRI style of bhangra fusion is hot…but then here’s a more home grown, gritty alternative…without all the metropolitan finesse…which is sort of filthy and cute at the same time. That’s one woman’s opinion, anyway.

So check it out…the new music vid. from Shootout at Lokhandwala 2007

“…In the Mumbai…all over India…We are the Bhais…we are the Bhais (shake your ass shake your ass shake your ass)”

Notice that all good Ganster tunes are sung/danced while completely trashed?

Saif Ali Khan gets it perfectly in Omkara…with Vivek Oberoi and Bipasha in Beedie…(good to see Vivek is getting a bit tougher after Aishwarya’s wedding…I was a bit worried for the kid) Of course Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi are killer as Munna Bhai and Circuit…but they play bad boys with hearts of gold where as films like Shootout at Lokhandwala, Omkara, Sarkar, etc. are just bad…bad to the bone…and did I mention cute?

Here’s Beedi …the lyrics are pretty raunchy…here they are:

No cover…No blanket…And this cold wind is also against me, oh fair one
It’s so cold, take someone’s blanket
Go take some fire from your neighbor’s stove
Light your beedi from my heart as there is a firing raging within

Don’t let smoke slip from your lips, my love
because this world is such a heap already

without any fault without any proof
Not commiting any crime, I got sentenced to death
On one such a day, do call me in the afternoon
Order me to court, tying me up with anklebells
Do call me in the afternoon and take me to court
Light your stove from my chest…
not even the edge of a knife
Even the dagger is matchless
She bit me in such a way, leaving marks behind
that any farmer will stop cutting his crops

oh, would you pair up with a crude like me
Oh billo, would you settle down with a crude
without telling, without calling me
he woke me up from my sleep
Suddenly my destiny came into my blanket
and while feeding me cardamoms, he kept coming closer…

lit your coal from my chest…

translation from bolly-what

BEEDI JALAYE LE – from Omkara 2006

The Gansters in Satya 1998 aren’t exactly…cute…but they are convincing…check out that classic drunken “kallu Mama” tune… here and another drunken Gangster song Saaki Saaki…..from Musafir 2004 with Sanjay Dutt here flicking his blade near writhing nymphets

Anyway, I’m working on my gangster sneer. I can’t wear my shirts unbuttoned down to my naval (or I won’t anyway)…but I’m working on my truck driver Hindi drawl…

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“An IDEAL BOY”-GOOD HABITS Indian RETRO POSTER…

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Some good habits I should get around to acquiring….like joining the army and going for morning walks…praying…wait a minute…is this a poster for the Republican Party?

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click here for the full poster:

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found this floating around some shop in Sector 23…Chandigarh…if you liked this Desi retro kitsch check out RETRO safety posters

BOMBAY JE T’AIME…towards a Cinema of Possibilities…by Sanjay Lafont.

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Remains of the Desi brings you another guest writer, who by chance…also shares the French Connection. But this one isn’t a chef fusing cuisines…he is the cuisine. Sanjay Lafont is one part Pujabi/one part French. You might ask…but which part is which? I would say…he lucked out…he got the Punjabi looks and the French aesthetic sense…and the volatile creative personality of both…It’s a pretty lethal mix shaken…not stirred… He’s worked with Bharat Bala and has written the screenplay for Hari Om, as well as having worked as an actor and model for print and media advertising in Bombay for the past six years. I’ve known The Lafont since our teenage highschool thespian days…and I think both of us remember the less dignified roles we’ve had to play in various musicals and what have you…..so whenever we meet there’s a certain sense of solidarity in the memory of thespian geekdom……but now geek is chic and so is writing and acting in Bombay… so here is the man of the day to give you the low down on French cinema and the possibilities he envisions for cinema in Bombay….

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still image from Paris Je t’aime at image2

What is it about Paris? The common mistake is to believe that Paris’s culture and image simply endures and the myriad love stories within are but reflections of that urban myth – but those who know better know that the myth is one that must be sustained and nurtured. The film Paris je t’aime is such an effort, one that should be seen as a cause rather than an effect of the Parisian myth. The most common remark made by viewers after Paris was, “What a great film! Why can’t we make films like that in India?” inevitably followed by a dismissive shrug meaning, ‘The fact is, we just can’t.’ The fact is we can. Let me get one thing straight first : I love Bollywood (or the Mumbai Film Industry, for those who take themselves too seriously). Love it in the same way I love Paris the city, for its reality and its fantasy, rationally and irrationally.

Paris is a collection of narrativaly and stylistically different films made by a score of directors and crew and actors from different nations, including our own adopted NRI filmmaker Gurinder Chaddha. It wasn’t handed out to a bunch of French directors and crew and actors, and therein lies the trick : by giving itself to the world, Paris has taken in the world. By contrast, Bollywood is still a terrifyingly selfish, hermetic industry. For example we have half a dozen male superheroes who lord it over the box office, followed by a herd of half-baked boys (approximately 99.9% of all leading men are related to the industry); we have an equal number of female bombshells to play damsel, followed by a gaggle of insecure girls clad in a few square centimetres of cloth (there is a kind of democracy here: hotness supercedes the gene pool). The fundamental problem is not nepotism/favoritism, however, but cinematic philosophy. Everything else, including the above -isms, stems from the prevailing cinematic philosophy. Even if we fixed the –isms it would be merely cosmetic, since the basic cinematic philosophy would remain.

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image from bollywood

The fundamental mistake being made is the idea that Bollywood is a fixed mode of filmmaking, that there is only ‘the Bollywood way’ and any other way that deviates from that path becomes by definition un-Indian. People conveniently forget that cinema is the world’s biggest and most visible bazaar : styles, techniques, technology, trends, moods, even actors and directors and producers, everything that feeds into film is constantly traded across cultures because it strengthens the art and refreshes it. For Bollywood to close its doors to the outside influences would be more than simply chauvinistic – it would be a criminal suffocation of one of the major creative sources.

Cinema is about the exploration of possibilities. The creation of a cinematic work is about opening up the field of possibilities as wide as possible, not about restricting it to a perceived permutation of elements and running the work through the formula machine. Paris is a film that exemplifies the philosophy of a Cinema of Possibilities, regardless of whatever flaws there might be in the work. Bollywood, ironically, often rips off entire foreign films or full sequences within and ‘Indianises’ them. Doesn’t that already smack of ‘un-Indian’ influences? Numerous young talents I know have stories to tell that are dismissed as “non-commercial” or “un-Indian” by ‘those who know better’, and find themselves forced to re-shape them into “commercial, pan-Indian, marketable” stories. These stories are original, and come from their India, the India they know and live, and maybe that’s what some producers don’t want to recognise in their quest for the elusive hit. Bollywood’s attempts to force a pan-Indian definition on an India that is increasingly and healthily growing into a sum of equal parts is as gross as its prevailing cinematic philosophy of making the maximum amount of money with the minimum amount of (original) work, of bending the structures of a medium that is fundamentally artistic to a raw and unsympathetic business model.

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image from London musical based on classic bollywood tropes im.rediff

This can change. Must it? Will it? That is not for someone like me to decide. All I see is that everyone I know walks into a Bollywood film and adjusts their standards down in order to enjoy the film. Why should that be? The pace of development of technical talent is undeniable, but must be equally matched by the development of authentic and new ideas and forms, new voices and expressions, new actors and actresses – not necessarily to replace the current system, but to make its place either within or alongside it. A new soul can’t speak with an old voice, and we know that most of Bollywood is still out of synch with the way India is developing. Some filmmakers are attempting new ways of cinematic expression, but too few.

The more Indian cultures become corporatised, globalised, urbanised, etc., the more valiant and ferocious our efforts must be to carry Bollywood forward, to make it one of the guiding lights of our way of life rather than a nostalgic museum piece, a cinematic Taj Mahal. There is a dynamic place for Bollywood in our future, one in which we embrace a Cinema of Possibilities as an open bazaar of wonder rather than a black market run by DVD thieves and petty power/money dynamics. To hark back to one of the original titans of our cinema, who himself openly assimilated elements and influences from foreign cinema and yet created his own stories with his own voice, Raj Kapoor called us “the dream merchants”. The only way merchants can prosper further is by trading with each other as much as with their clients. We must re-open a Spice Route of cinema, and one day even Paris may come to us for a helping of dreams of love with the words, “Bombay, je t’aime…”

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image from ifctv

Punk Rock and Malayalam Gospel: What Finland has in Common with India

So I’m searching through youtube late at night and I think…what the hell…lets do a search for Finland and India…and what do I find?

A FINNISH WOMAN SINGING MALAYALAM GOSPEL:

She’s thinking, “this is such a pure culture…steeped in history and rich traditions…I am so happy I am able to cross the language barrier and partake of this universal experience of brotherly love…listen to our voices in harmony…”

The guy is thinking “Think holy thoughts think holy thoughts…Do not get woody near blond chic …think holy thoughts…The power of Christ compels me The Power of Christ compels me….”

You need to see the bit where the blue galaxy of stars starts shooting behind them…and don’t miss the studio fan which is blowing through their hair…

Then I randomly find clips of this famous punk rock star from Finland called Pelle Miljoona… headbanging his dreads in Manali…to one of his own hit songs Mä vaan pogoon… I just came back from a trip to Manali and Kasol…and there are pretty much two things there…green mountains and tourists. Oh yeah…and lots of trash in huge nasty rubbish heaps…but if you escape up to little guest houses on the hill you can actually get a sense of the untouched romance of the place that it all must have looked like in the 60’s and 70’s. And if you’re lucky you come across some old school Rastafarian punk rock hippie types like Pelle over here sitting in some coffee shop smoking chillums…usually stoned senseless…not usually headbanging like a maniac…wish I’d run into this guy… His biggest hit was in 1980 with Moottoritie on Kuuma (Highway Is Hot in English).

And here he is again playing a guitar in some seedy little restaurant in Delhi singing “I AM AN ANARCHIST I AM AN ANTICHRIST” while the waiter does a little jig! Punk rock is not dead!

Indian Cow Eats Chickens…alive!

“The local vets said the cow was probably suffering from a disease but others said Lal was a tiger in his previous birth,” Link

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image from everythingweird

March 7, 2007

CALCUTTA, India – When his chickens started disappearing a few weeks ago, a farmer in eastern India figured dogs or jackals were to blame – until he discovered his calf making a meal of his poultry. Moloy, who uses only one name, and his 1-year-old calf have since become local celebrities, with the carnivorous cow appearing on television in India’s West Bengal state and hundreds of people flocking to see them in Chandipur, a village 145 miles southwest of Calcutta, the state capital.

“To catch the culprit, Moloy got up very early … and to his disbelief found that it was his calf which came out from the cow shed and was eating the chickens alive,” Debjyoti Chatterjee, a local resident who filmed the calf eating a chicken, said Thursday.

The local veterinarian was at a loss for an explanation.

Link

Playing with LACAN: comics, pop art, and pleasure

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image from entropic-empire

I really dig comics and pop artifacts that do theory the right way…cuz not everyone into theory is into “high” culture. And there’s nothing more irritating than a pompous idiot who thinks that Lacan is only for “professional” Lacanians. The reason why Lacan’s work is interesting is because it is talking about the conflict between how people imagine their lives and how they live them- as well as how the conscious mind spends most its time trying to cover up this discrepancy.

When he was speaking and writing he was addressing a mostly French and insular audience but that doesn’t mean that we have to mystify his ideas with dry academic ramblings. Bruce Fink’s writings on Lacan are a significant step in the right direction. And “Introducing Lacan” by Darian Leader and Judy Groves is an excellent example of how psychoanalysis can be communicated in comic-book format and still retain clarity without too many theoretical sacrifices.

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click on the images to read the text…from “Introducing Lacan” by Darian Leader and Judy Groves, 2000

In my brief encounters with academia I have gotten the impression that there is an unwritten rule: If you are enjoying yourself too much then your thinking must not be very good. After all thought is “serious.” Perhaps this is why Zizek had such a hard time getting his Phd thesis certified…anyway…even he seems to have realized that people become far more open to philosophy if you gift-wrap it in a joke with popular references like Hitchcock. He gets annoyed by the fact that even some of his closest colleagues sometimes think he is just mucking about…but he realizes that he would fall under censure far more frequently if he made some of his radical propositions without a touch of irony. In fact, I do not think Zizek is very frequently ironic at all. He just pretends to be ironic so that the fluttering hearts of sentimental liberals can be soothed with the question “he wasn’t being REALLY serious, was he?”

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image from zeitgeistfilms

Anyway, those of us who have felt the lacerating whip of academia probably realize that, when you are very far down the totem pole of academic hierarchy…it is difficult to get away with making the kinds of jokes that Zizek does. But, regardless, I’ve gotten tired of the dour-faced self-flagellation that most older academics seem to expect in British academia. Come on! Somebody tell a joke! Well perhaps they really are enjoying themselves and there’s a secret trap door in the teacher’s lounge that leads to a torture dungeon with whips and paddles but I’ve not yet been invited.

I digress…

So the point being…academia seems to bring with it instructions for HOW TO approach theory and it usually frowns upon enjoyment.

The point is…if you like theory…you shouldn’t be barred from enjoying it just because you aren’t into whips……and if you enjoy comics…then mix it up. Here is some graphic art along those lines…

Kid A IN ALPHABET LAND (trading card set)

(An Abecedarian Roller Coaster Ride Through The Phallocentric Obscurantism Of Jacques Lacan)

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text from above image:

Kid A In Alphabet Land Jumps Another Juicy ‘Jaculator – That Jerk-Off, Jouissance!

You Displease Me, And You Think I Gain Pleasure From That! Heh! You Must Take Me For Some Masochistic Francophile! And You’re The Substance I’m Paid With By My Lack Of Substance? You’re Impossible! I’m Coming To Get You! – Fuck You, Jouissance!

Check out the whole KID A deck at KID A

and for more Lacanian artwork and other avant garde weirdness check out Perfume

And the filamentary corpuscles have all exploded…

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image from novia

Finally! A computer program that gets my panties in a twist…now all I need is a table in a smoky bar next to a crumbling piano and a microphone…and a few weather-beaten French critics wearing black turtlenecks, berets, and unsympathetic expressions. Any volunteers?

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image from virginia.edu

Anyway for those of you who would like to test your poetic pretensions…ascertain once and for all as to whether or not your poetry really is worse than a poem picked out of a computer generated grab-bag of words….Check out this link…you just write a few random words and it generates a beatnik poem for you….I just wrote “Walking late night yellowed tar Colaba taxis and sleeping corners” and I got back:

Dig this Daddio:

Walking late night yellowed tar Colaba taxis and sleeping corners
no nads felled were late Walking steal except my hall, if Come
the electric weren’t low And How naked and shut a buy eschew even
like fled decided destiny to with your to can of the bees I revved
up my chainsaw, and felled a few trees errupted with such
visciousness to scare me And the filamentary corpuscles have all exploded,
And the filamentary corpuscles have all exploded, And the My soul on fire and everlasting pain.

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image from myspace

Ginsberg would be proud…(or unemployed)