Category Archives: Humor

Here and There and This and That: Ads I can’t stand

There are two things on TV which vie for the most irritating tag for me these days. And the news channels are losing to the advertisements. Only slightly though, but losing. And for something which you are supposed to tolerate every 15 minutes, making a (aesthetically) bad advertisement should be a criminal offence. Sadly, it isn’t. Let me share a few which really get on my nerves these days.

So there is this new Airtel ad which makes me shudder more, every new day I watch it. It is the My Plan ad. Airtel basically has this new flexible plan which anybody can customize according to their usage requirements. So they have this ad, where they show different individuals interacting with their cellphones in different ways. This is, of course, to show how we all use our phones differently, and hence our data/call plans should be according to our needs. The video is shot in slow motion. Why? Probably because the ad wishes to be BIG. It wants to make an impact (crater). And like filmmakers who slo-mo certain parts of their visual pieces to emphasize those parts, these guys shot this ad in slow motion. And since every single bit of this ad is important, well, the whole of it is in slo-mo. But that’s ok really, it is shot well. I really have no issues with the video of the ad, apart from this guy whose unique expression I cannot stand any longer. I could not figure out any song, which would induce this (below) smile with eye-brows smugness in me.

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Cool song enjoyer in an albino Dhoom 3 hat

But the video is alright. The music is good. It has 30 seconds to Mars kind of feel to it. And it carries forward the visual’s endeavor to impart the ad a grand setting. It is one of those songs which start slow and the beats progressively get stronger and reverberating and the vocals get ‘scream-ier’. Anthem rock, if there is any. Then there is the conclusion: a firm female voice which takes over from song-vocals to deliver the message. The message, keeping in with the Grand theme, is very brief.

And emphatic.

And stops suddenly.

To stun the audience into awesomeness.

And it would have been an awesome ad but on my third viewing of it, I paid attention to the lyrics. And it blew my inner-ear-fluid-balance thing. The lyrics just did not match the Grand overalls. It was like Sachin holing out to McGrath in the world cup finals chasing 360, in the very first over. It goes something like this:

(The singer starts in his most grunge-growling voice)-

(Slow) ♫ We’re all so different. ♫  (with the TH of differen-th so pronounced, I am sure he looked away from the mic, still holding it, for a sec, in the style of those rockers who deliver a great first line, and draw breath for the next, because the first was so amazing and took such an emotional and physical toll on them)

(And belts this legendary line) ♫ That’s how it should be. ♫(That’s how it should be?? Why do I need this random lame reassurance?)

(Vocals gaining momentum, gradually) ♫ Love, hate, fear and joy. Emotional fingerprints. ♫ (Profound.)

(Towards the crescendo now)♫ Coz I am not you and you are not me. ♫

(And the feverish, heart pounding repeat of the last line) ♫ Coz Aiyaa am not you and you are not me. ♫

(And the lady takes over) Each one of us uses our phones differently. That’s why, MY PLAN. The first ever postpaid plan, that’s created by me, FOR ME.

END. DAMN. Or as a dear friend of mine would have said: Ae Dhishum.

And that ‘Created by Me, FOR ME’ line trod so closely to Lincoln’s “(Government) of the people, by the people, for the people, I cringed. I think one should steer clear of lines which sound like other famous lines. It is hard to make people believe that you were not inspired.

But the real disaster for me was the quasi-big lyrics. How many great ads do you remember which use background songs which actually say what the product is all about. Hint: not a lot. And not only does this Airtel ad almost does that, it has to insert such a lame filler line in between: That’s how it should be. And to follow it up with such brilliant lines like Coz I am not you and you are not me. It is like Ravi Shastri’s commentary.
Watch the airtel ad here.

Another ad which annoys me a great deal with its substandard writing is the Micromax ad featuring Hugh Jackman. I mean, why would somebody spend big bucks on a Hollywood star and then employ a buffoon for a writer (maybe that is the reason. No money left.). This ad has Hugh Jackman opening with a line

“People have heroes..”.

Who messes up a promising opening line like that? You invariably expect something amazing following ‘People have heroes’. But what he says next is:

“… I found mine in a circus. A Juggler.”

Ok, hmm, well, what, in a circus? A juggler? Really, Hugh Jackman? Mind you, he is playing himself in this ad. He then proceeds to tell us that he, too,  is a juggler now, thanks to his cellphone. How? He juggles the many lives of Hugh Jackman through the services of his Micromax CANvas turbo, which can multitask! So Hugh Jackman got this new phone and suddenly he was what he wanted to be all his life: Juggler? The problem is really the small scope of the product. It is a smart phone with a decent processor, that’s all. No big deal. But the brand wants to get big. So it hires a big star, but since they just have an ordinary feature to highlight, they write a script around it which is equally pathetic. What are the many lives of Jackman?

“Friends, work, my passions” (nausea).

And then they keep emphasizing their CAN (taken from CANvas). CAN do this, CAN do that, CAN juggle many lives. Somebody needs to tell them to get rid of that.

Watch the Micromax ad here.

There was this Samsung tab 2 ad which had a jingle like this:

♫ “Anything that’s making news, funny videos on youtube..

♫At the café with angry birds, all the news I read it first..

♫Making calls from everywhere, play cool (..) games anywhere..

♫.

♫.

♫Reading mails from my boss, downloading files from Dropbox,

♫Here and there and this and that…on the go with my tab”

Watch the ad here.

As if it was not enough that they actually had to list everything their tablet could do, they sang it too. And if these guys could not write a few lines without resorting to using fillers like ‘that’s how it should be’ and ‘here and there and this and that’, why are they writing at all? Why do not they just pay up a little and use a real song, or hire a better writer instead? I am sure they do not really care, because they use the logic that the primary aim of an ad is not to look or sound good; it is to sell stuff, as their shield. Even then, would it hurt if they tried a little harder to dish out something more presentable?

But there are so many ads which do such an amazing job with their songs. Below are two which…wait a min, I guess I would write a separate piece celebrating the good ones. Later.

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The case for UFC. Part 1. A Little Story

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I am sure you watched UFC-162: Anderson Silva versus Chris Weidman. Where the Legend fell.

No?

Do you know who Chris Weidman is ?

Anderson Silva ??

UFC ???

MMA ????

If you answered all of the above in affirmative, you may give the follow ups to this article a miss. I have not a substantial lot to offer.

But if one or more were in the negative, let me have the pleasure to extend my appreciation for this brave new sport to you.

If you answered all of them in negative, well, since manhandling is not appreciated, I would have to ask you to take 5 rounds of the nearest athletics field, at the end of which, hit the field to give me 50 push ups in two minutes and half, and then let me have the pleasure to extend my appreciation for this brave new sport to you.

Though, I understand well that this is an exercise in futility. It is like convincing vegetarians to take up eating meat or trying to make see the abstainer the totally magical world one sees after a few drinks. You just cannot. First there is this hurdle of subjectivity of opinion: What is the proof that if it was awesome for you, it would be awesome for me too? Secondly, and more importantly, there is the hurdle of prejudice: Meat for vegetarians, alcohol for abstainers, and for this article, violent sports for average peace-loving person, is something they:

–           Are not ready to give a try in an unbiased manner. OR

–           Do not look forward to. OR

–          Need a shift change in outlook (not the Microsoft type) to accept.

Because, they think it is just not good.

But what would this world be without triers? So here I go.

But first, this little anecdote would not hurt-

   The year of 2011, I had applied for a course offered by the NID in Toy and Game design and cleared the written exam. I was shortlisted for an interview which would take place in the NID campus at Ahmedabad. I wanted to design games, video games in particular, in fact just video games. In my pursuit of finding a college which was of some repute and offered a course in Game Design, NID was the best I could find. But they said Toy and game design, and just hinted that they would teach digital games also, and I conveniently chose to overlook the Toy part.  I should not have.

I was called for an interview which was to span some 3 days and included some tasks, small projects and an actual interview. The total seats up for grabs were 15 and they had called about 25 people. I was already looking for my favorite room in the hostel, deliberating whether I would be able to eat the mess food the whole course and analyzing the canteen. You guessed it, no way I was not clearing this.

So for the first assignment, they showed this picture (Not these exactly, these are my lame renditions from what i remember).

Fill in the fourth

They asked to write a story explaining the three cards, and asked us to draw the empty fourth, according to the story of course. If you are not in a hurry, why don’t you try it too? Tell me what story comes to your mind on seeing these three pictures and tell me in comments below. 

This is what I drew as fourth.

The final showdown

And this is what I wrote:

“Sandhu and Lampat were upbeat. Today they had a Men’s Job to do. They were bored to death running errands for Dada. Today was their day.

 There was a new Master in village. He was sent from the city to restart the defunct village school. Dada did not like it.

 This village was not to be spoiled by education. They were to ‘convince’ the Master to reconsider the priorities in his life.

Sandhu and Lampat reached the Master’s house and started hurling the most inspired expletives.

Master came out. He must be about 30, Sandhu observed. The Master was wiry, about the average height.

He did not look fazed at all.  

Lampat supplemented his battery of expletives with their motive to pay the Master this visit. “Go back kid. No school to be run here. If you are not gone by this evening, even your mother would not like to hug your dead body, it will be such a piece of art.”

The Master did not respond.

Lampat was infuriated upon not seeing the desired effect of his monologue on the Master. He made a move towards the Master in the most sinister fashion brandishing his danda. Dada was watching all of this from a distance. He wanted to be ‘sure’.

Lampat had barely moved an inch when he saw the Master reach out and draw two of the biggest revolvers he had ever seen, from under his shirt. They were pointed at Sandhu and him. Lampat thought he would faint. He dropped the stick. He was feeling sick. He could feel something warm seeping down his thighs. Sandhu had already joined his hands in seeking forgiveness.

The Master’s hands were steady, like a rock. He slowly turned his right hand towards the nearby hillock. Towards Dada.

Dada smiled. The information was right. The Master was the real thing. He will be his new lieutenant. Dada shouted,” I have an offer Master. Let us talk.”

I was really happy with the story. I had a good feeling.

The next day, the assignment was to make an object of play with some stuff we were give. There were wires, some wooden sticks, wire cutter, glue, cardboard etc. The object was to utilize the concept of balance. I must say I did a shit job there. A great awesome first story and a shit project, umm, in my mind it was 1-1 now. The interview tomorrow was to make it or break it.

There were 3 guys and a lady in the interview panel the next day. I showed my previous work and one of the guys tossed a pen cap towards me and asked to tell him 5 ways in which this pen cap can be used as an object of play. I could suggest only 4, three of which involved throwing the pen cap. I was thinking of the fifth one when the lady asked me “Are you a violent person?”

I said ‘No’, of course. I am sure she did not believe me.

But I think it was hilarious because she actually asked me this question. I don’t know what she was expecting as an answer “Glad you asked that Ma’am. As a matter of fact, yes, i am an extremely violent person. Now can I have your eye balls?  I just got an idea for the fifth game.”

I did not make it to NID. I guess, for good.

But I don’t think of myself as a violent person. If the pseudo-psychologist would have read my story more closely, she would have observed that there was not even any real violence there. No shots were fired, nobody was hurt, at least physically (LOL). I think I was just in the spirit of video games and I wanted to write a stylized story. I don’t think it was any more violent than the desire to take a head shot in an FPS.

Why did I tell you this? Why UFC is the most awesome thing ever? Was the two-bit psychologist right?   

Let me take that up in the next installment.

Lootera: Review

Lootera

I almost did not watch this movie. I am not a great fan of Ranveer Singh, and the trailers themselves were so uninspiring. This makes one remember how important are promos for a film, particularly in how they are supposed to give you the flavors and more importantly, the strengths of the actual movie. Here they did not. I went to the theater expecting a love story with some gun shots at the end against the backdrop of Bengal with the picnic scenes ripped off from Chokher Bali (unless it was typical of the Bengalis of the yore to picnic in their tree gardens and exchange glances). It all was there, but there was much more this movie, had to offer, was all about.

For starters, the makers chose Bengal. There is something about the place which imparts gravity to any work which is based there. Bengal, I think, still stands for culture, its natural beauty, its adorable language and its utter stubbornness to change. The movie makes great use of all of this. It is beautiful to look at. But that is not a lot to say, is it? A beautiful movie has got to be backed up by performances. It is.

It was really sincere, the movie. It did not overtly try to be a period drama, or a bengali film, or a heist movie, or a love story or anything for that matter, and in the process became all of it. It just told its story, if I might add, on the shoulders of Sonakshi Sinha, who is in such top effortless form that it was an absolute pleasure to watch her. Right from the scene where she takes her hands off the car wheels and takes for granted her driver would take the blame, to spilling coffee on the cocky guest, to setting up the art classes to regularly meet the guy and ends up teaching (the whole leaf drawing episode was hilariously sweet), to expressing her sadness and then the anger, particularly the anger, upon realizing that her love might be lost. She is amazing and here it only helps that she speaks with a little Bhojpuri touch. And she was so in character though in through. I could point out at least three occasions when she was not in focus and still carried the same intensity. The first half was so amazingly flawless that I was wondering how are they going to keep up in the second, or were they going to mess it up.

Another character who made an unassuming but sure mark was the gentle Zamindar, played by Mr Barun Chanda. I had never seen him before and he was absolutely a treat to watch. He was calm in his portrayal of a man of means, trusting  and warm and you could feel for him when he was betrayed. I wish we see him more often.

The background score (especially just before the intermission) was another aptly placed winner of the movie. It was spot on. The songs are good too. And they were not sung, on screen, thankfully.

Ranveer SIngh. I thought he was miscast, before I saw the movie. And he just barely made his grade. He was not bad, of course. I think, he is an extremely hard working guy but his fusion with Anushka Sharma has left such an indelible (north Indian, quick speaking) mark on him that it must be hard for him to speak like a man from Darbhanga. So the director just said “Speak as flat as you can, Ranveer.” And he did just that. There is one more character, played by Vikrant Massey, who is Ranveer’s friend and accomplice, a position so almost absolutely reserved for Aditya Roy Kapur, that I actually saw Kapur when the character walked in. LOL

And lastly the curious case of The Last Leaf. I realized it about halfway through the second half when SInha writes about it. It was kind of nice to remember a story you read (Read for Pleasure, I think) in school all of a sudden. I could not remember the author of course and promptly tried to spoil the suspense for my partner who was watching the movie with me. But looking back, it was a  little funny how the filmmakers actually accommodated the inspiration from the short story, starting from the Art Class episode of the first half and the totally random desire by the protagonist to someday draw a masterpiece.

But you know what, I loved the movie. And I strongly urge you to pay a visit. I fought my desire to write a review for almost two days, and it still got the better of me. The movie is that good.

PS: I almost forgot one of the things which made me smile. The use of third person between the girl and the guy while they talk about themselves in matters of love. Absolutely masterclass !!

The Monsoon Article

Let me set the tone for this one: I hate Rains in Mumbai. I have been thinking of writing this ‘How I f’king hate the rains in Mumbai’, for three years of the six I have lived here. So why am I actually writing it this time? I think it’s because rain did not soft land this year, which, if the term can be applied to it, which I think it could be in a relative way, is the way with most villainous seasons of any place: they start mildly, gradually  increasing in intensity and then unleashing their full fury. Rains this year, sucker punched me. I was doing the usual, planning to buy my rain-special lace-less shoes, trying to locate my umbrella, chalking out my strategy as to how and what will I carry with me to office, so that the collateral damage can be minimized, you know, rain spray dirtied bags and stuff. The rains were supposedly still a week away. There were clouds in the sky, but they didn’t look like coming down. And then suddenly, one day, without warning, it started. And did not stop. That day, I was in not at my usual office but at a place from where transport is not easy to find, even on a regular day. It was nearing my would-leave-for-the-day time and I could see the skies getting dark. It was the kind of dark which you don’t like ever, I can’t think of a time I like that kind of dark skies, invariably gloomy. And soon enough, the heavens broke loose. It was not the kind of downpour which shoots and scoots. Mumbai rains have this amazing quality of maintaining insanely protracted quantity. These are not the cute Katni style rains which pour down with lot of sound and then after 7 minutes, are gone. Mumbai rains hit first, hit hard and keep on hitting. But on the very first day of the monsoon??? God damn it. The lady who I was sharing the auto with, while my time at this non regular office, had a baby waiting for her at home, and generally people don’t give a shit, so she was ready to go, like nothing was out of the ordinary outside. But I could see the long wait for the auto in rain, shoes and the trousers getting wet and dirty with mud. My Shoes. F’k. I had my dear canvas, suede, leather having adidas shoes on; it was Friday for god’s sake. The first monsoon f’k on the very first day of the monsoon and that too on a Friday? What were the odds? How the fuschia was I supposed to clean my precious shoes?  But I couldn’t be a pussy and wait it out, it wasn’t going to wane anyway, it was my moment of screw. We got an auto but it insisted we take the long route, what magnificent bitches these cunt autos become in rain warrants another separate rant-athon, so I would not elaborate on that here, and we obliged. 1 hour and 30 minutes later, I reached home. Sprayed on the face, trousers dripping and a long bath session lurking ahead.  I had to write this article. But. But I did not write it that night. It was too late till I washed off my battle scars. I wrote it 2 days later, when another rain-r@pe descended on me and this time I was just coming to office, my day was just about to start. Some office work was about to be manhandled because I had to write this article.

But why exactly I hate the rain here in Mumbai? Doesn’t everybody love it? Not just rain in general, but Mumbai rain? You ask people what they love about Mumbai and they would say “Rain”, and vada pav, which is another overrated item of food but that’s ok. Girls seem to get wet being in rain and I am not just talking about being drenched. But I don’t think I am overreacting here. I, and I think everybody should, have good reasons to hate it.

What are those?

As follows:

Vehicle showers: I didn’t know they even existed before coming here. They happen when the tyres of fast-moving vehicles, throw tangential streams of water owing to their threads and grooves. These little streams of water hit the mud-flap or any adjoining hard surface and break down in this fine barber’s water spray like spray which clouds the tyres and trails as the vehicle surges ahead.

                                               Rain jet

 It travels far and wide and gets sucked in the auto you are travelling in, because autos are what you can afford daily. That is the water from a bloody tyre!! And I didn’t even use Bloody as an expletive here; it really could be bloody. Run over snake, mouse, cat, dog…Human. Shit, diapers, that tea brown mud you saw back there. Damn. And it sprayed the wash right on your face. And you know what, getting your face dirtied is not even the worst part. This shit cloud gets in your ears, a place you can’t even wash with much soap, and even water. That’s the ear where you would later insert your finger in and give a nice little shake and feel good, and get that shit mix out on the finger tip. Eat it.

So why won’t you take the bus instead, if your daily destination does not fall on a local train route? Buses in Mumbai are so convenient, available everywhere. I am sure that should be the solution. Right? Wrong. I will tell you the story of my moment of awakening.

That was one of my first days in Mumbai monsoon. I used to take my office bus for commuting and I missed it one day. Sure enough, there were BEST buses to take me home. I hopped on one. I got a window seat and was happily looking out. BEST buses are good buses, not gloomy at all, so, as long as, the person in front of you is not spitting and the obliging wind not bringing it to your face, it’s all lovely in a BEST bus. It had just stopped raining a few minutes back and the roads were slightly over-wet, the state of being more than just wet, with a thin little film of water still on. But it was absolutely not raining. And just so I learn my lesson early and permanently, I was wearing a plain white shirt. A few minutes later I realized I had tiny brown spots on my sleeves. I was flabbergasted. Where the f’k from man? I was too high up for regular Vehicle showers, and anyway the traffic was not moving that fast. Suddenly I noticed tiny suspended water particles in air. There was no other vehicle nearby. It was my own dear bus!!! I was getting friendly-sniped by my own bus. The vehicle shower of my own bus was rising and staining my shirt. It was one of the most heart-breaking realizations I had, ever. It was so unfair. It was like getting shouted on by your own Dad when you got beat up in a fight you did not start and was just passing by. Why I had to know this grimy fact when so many others were happily oblivious to it? I was never to be the same happy me on a bus in Monsoon again.  As soon as the rain starts, I slide close my bus window and hope that he guy in front of me shares at least half of my rain-apprehension and keep his closed too.

But, you know what, buses are still the best way of transport in rains, second only to private cabs, but there is absolutely no fare comparison, so buses win hands down. Buses are spacious, frequent and save you from the world, you are so high up, and so cheap. But that’s why they are so crowded too, but then comes the champion: your office bus. It covers the maximum distance between your office and home, is inhabited by people just like you, you are guaranteed a seat almost every time, and you can doze off!! After having spent nearly five years commuting an average of 2.5 hours daily, I have come to the conclusion that the best you can utilize the commute time is by sleeping.

The auto inverted V-zone: But office buses would not take you elsewhere and it is the service of Autos that you invariably would fall back to. Now, autos are never safe. You always run the risk of tasting the paan the auto-driver is relishing via the spit-volleys. It seems like they spit out of boredom, I don’t know. There is no sane reason to spit so much. Only sportsmen come close to as much spitting. But that’s ok, you can always ask them not to. But the auto V zone, you can’t do anything about it.

It’s the inverted v shaped jet autos tyres expel in their wake. It’s amazing, because I rarely saw it form under any other type of vehicles’ tyres. Other vehicles seem to emit straight jets which just annoy the biker behind them. Not the autos. They spread it V-wise. I don’t know, maybe it’s the small size or the threads, but it’s amazing nonetheless. And it does the maximum damage to its other auto siblings.

The autos, during the monsoons, are generally fitted with plastic flaps to save the passengers from water. So the only open sides are diagonal to the passenger. You sit almost at the vertex. And it’s through this direction, those jets of inverted V variety hit you. It is beautiful in its execution. You get f’ked but you can appreciate the beauty of it all.

                                  Inverted V revised

In absence of transport, you are bound to be at home, which, honestly, I don’t mind at all. But you can’t be home all FIVE months of Mumbai monsoon now, could you?

But who am I kidding? Aren’t Rains, if somewhat gloomy, just the most beautiful? I don’t think the world is so wrong after all.  They stir up emotions like no other season.  I think it just has a lot of character, the rain. That’s why we respond so strongly to it. It takes you through such highs and lows. I have always been a lover of extreme weathers; the blazing hot summers and finger numbing chilly winters. The kind of weathers, which, overwhelm you so much with their, seemingly, prolonged presence, that you wish them to end and still, when they are gone, you look back, and, remember just the good bits, forgetting the nails, which, ironically, made the good bits good.    I think it’s my turn with the monsoons now.

And they make such a good photographer out of you!      

Caught a lightning strike !!
Caught a lightning strike !!

   

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