Sunke Shor Banaraswala...

Or "The noise in Benares and how I felt after being exposed to it" :-).

Here are some delightful snippets from a book I am currently reading - Butter Chicken in Ludhiana : Travels in Small Town India by Pankaj Mishra :-

The most uniform and conspicuous feature of the towns and cities you travel through in North India, and also the most serious menace to civilized life in them, is noise. It accompanies you everywhere - in your hotel room, in the lobby, in the elevator, in the streets, in temples, mosques, gurdwaras, shops, restaurants, parks - chipping away at your nerves to the point where you feel breakdown to be imminent. It isn't just the ceaseless traffic, the pointless blaring of horns, the steady background roar that one finds in big cities. It is much worse: the electronics boom in India has made cassette players available to anyone with even moderate spending power. Cassettes too are cheap, especially if you buy pirated ones. People diminished by urban existence can now fill up the immense vacuum of their lives by a continuous production of sound.

Further along, Mishra writes about his difficult experience in Benares, the previous year, dealing with the aforementioned problem.

For, to be woken up at five in the morning by the devotional treacle of Anup Jalota, Hari Om Sharan and other confectioners, all of them simultaneously droning out from several different cassette players; to be relentlessly assaulted for the rest of the day and most of the night by the alternately over-earnest and insolent voices of Kumar Sanu, Alisha Chinoy, Baba Sehgal singing 'Sexy, Sexy, Sexy', 'Ladki Hai Kya Re Baba', 'Sarkaaye Liyo Khatiya' and other hideous songs; to have them insidiously leak into your memory and become moronic refrains running over and over in your mind; to have your environment polluted and your day destroyed in this way was to know a deepening rage, an impulse to murder, and, finally, a creeping fear at one's own dangerous level of derangement. It was to understand the perfectly sane people you read about in the papers, who suddenly explode into violence one fine day; it was to conceive a lasting hatred for the perpetrators, rich or poor, of these auditory atrocities.

The book was published in 1995. It describes Mishra's journeys through the smaller towns and cities of India during the post-liberalization period. He even visits Bangalore, which was then a "Pensioner's Paradise". I guess the best thing about his travels is that he had no fixed itinerary as such (reminds me of our trip to Pune quite sometime back :-). Thoroughly enjoying the book.

Tags : A Bookworm's Diet, Bangalore

Posted by Rajat @ 3:42 PM   |  Comments

Movie Reviews - Part 2

A post which has been long overdue - the 'part 2' of my earlier post. I watched all these movies almost an year ago, but never got around to completing the draft which I had begun then. Today being the third anniversary of this blog, I decided that I should at least complete and post this to mark the occasion :-).


Based on Shakespeare's Othello. Ajay Devgan is Omkara (Othello). Saif Ali Khan is just too good as the baddie, "Langda" Tyagi (Iago). Kareena Kapoor plays the role of Dolly (Desdemona) and she does it surprisingly well. Pukka North Indian accents and mannerisms all around, including the swearing. Vishal Bharadwaj's music and Gulzar's lyrics complement each other. Vishal does a great job as director too. Highly recommended.


Mani Ratnam and A R Rahman combo, which naturally implies good music. Shreya's Barso Re is the pick of the lot. Abhishek Bachchan takes the honours on the acting front. Mithunda does some good work too. Reminds one of his role in Agneepath for which he won the 1991 Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor. Check out the Wikipedia article on Dhirubhai Ambani to see the "plot" similarities :-).


Shiney Ahuja shines in the titular role. His expressions convey more emotions than the few lines which he is allotted. Superb music by Pritam. Kangana Ranaut essays the role of the gangster's moll.

Woh Lamhe

Shiney & Kangana again. Plot based on the relationship between Mahesh Bhatt and Parveen Babi. Pritam composes a winner again. Recommended.

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi

Shiney (Vikram), Chitrangada Singh (Geeta) and Kay Kay Menon (Siddharth). A triangle of love, politics & business set in the 1970s. Sudhir Mishra at his best. Definitely a must-see.


Pure, unadulterated torture. I took nearly a week to finish this one. Extremely silly, lots of overacting, bad direction, the list of cons goes on and on. Supposedly based on Love Actually to some extent. Music by Shankar, Ehsaan & Loy is reasonably good.

Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest

The second movie in the trilogy. It has its moments, but isn't as good as the first one.

A Beautiful Mind

I had read the book by Sylvia Nasar around 3 years ago. The movie skips over a lot of the stuff from the book. Nevertheless it is a pretty good adaptation. Jennifer Connelly won the Oscar (Best Actress in a Supporting Role) for her role as John Nash's wife.

Blood Diamond

Loved it. DiCaprio is great. So is Djimon Hounsou. Jennifer Connelly looks jaded though.

The Prestige

One of my favourites. Christopher Nolan directs Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine & Scarlett Johansson. Bale is superb as usual. The climactic revelation is "magical", to say the least. Based on the book by the same name.


Will be remembered for its focus on Jiah Khan's legs and pout. And of course, the opposition by various parties to the 'immoral' content in the movie - people were seemingly afraid that it would give 'ideas' to older men and 'corrupt' them :-). Whatever. Decent acting, music and direction.

The Departed

Another good one. Strong cast, good story. And Martin Scorsese finally got his long overdue Best Director Oscar.

Spider-Man 3

Spidey gets in touch with his emotional side and other assorted crap. Boring.

Bas Ek Pal

A good story (probably based on Pedro Almodóvar's Carne Trémula, which in turn is loosely based on Ruth Rendell's book Live Flesh). Music by Mithoon is pretty good, especially the title song.

Life in a Metro

Hummable tunes by Pritam. Irfan Khan and Konkona Sen Sharma are good.

Tags : Movies

Posted by Rajat @ 10:30 PM   |  Comments