Future Ahead, Drive Slow Thursday, 2 September, 2010Posted by ~uh~™ in Cartoon, Mumbai.
Tags: Cars, Cartoon, distance, Future, insane, ips, MOHO, Mumbai, speed, time, traffic, year 2050
Of late I am spending too much time on road, driving. My travel time has increased significantly since last six months. I spend an average of 1.5 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening every day, to commute a distance of 18 kms between office and home. Sometimes it takes me more than 2.5 hrs in the evening. Just about a year ago, I used to travel almost double the distance in the same drive-time. May be it’s the excess of flyovers, eradication of the traffic signals (to justify the ‘expressway’ term), construction of further infrastructure, intense monsoon, deeper potholes or greater number of vehicles or a combined effect of all the factors which is responsible for the phenomena. Whatever it is, it has given me more time to be inside the solitary confinement of my car. With nothing better to do, I spend that time listening to music and thinking. Yeah, I used to think earlier too and have published my thoughts as general advice on driving or narrating silly road rage incidences. But of late I am thinking about the future.
I am no transport planner, or a strategic policy maker, but from the statistics that we get to read about the number of increasing vehicles this becomes a cause of concern for me. They say 500 vehicles get added into Mumbai roads every day. Using common sense I can safely assume that that many vehicles don’t go off the road every day. Our knowledgeable and experienced civic authorities and transport planners, after much deliberation has eliminated the traffic signals by building flyovers and pedestrian over-bridges to facilitate free. Ironically, that has made the situation worse. Now the traffic snarls are sometimes longer than ten kms. Avoiding flyover is faster in some cases (e.g. Bandra or Airport flyover). Sometimes I have to drive for an hour at first gear to travel five kms. With my limited common sense but huge confidence on Indian civic authorities, I am very sure that over coming years, the commuting is going to be longer and longer.
So, say what will happen to Mumbai road traffic in the year 2050? Here’s what I think. It won’t be all that bad.
1. The cheap suburban local train network won’t sustain due to excessive commuter load. Being the fastest mode of commuting it would be converted into a premium luxurious transportation system (PLTS) which would be ten times costlier than driving a car. There would be two different class- luxurious saloon cars and executive first class. Both would be air-conditioned, equipped with television and wireless broadband. Luxurious saloon would have a bar and complimentary feet-massage service. Gorgeous stewardesses would serve alcohol on the seat. Each compartment would be manned with armed bouncers to take care of unwanted incidences. However, all these facilities would come with a hefty price tag, which could only be afforded by the rich and elite. A one way PLTS ticket from Dahisar to Churchgate would be equal to the airfare from Mumbai to Delhi.
2. On road, the concept of speed would change. The speedometer would be calibrated in Inches/ second (ips). Considering 10.9 ips is equivalent to 1 km/hr, an average speed of 10-15 ips would be considered great. City roads would have speed limits of 20 ips for cars and 30 ips for heavier vehicles. Bandra-Worli sea link would have a faster limit of 40 ips. Ferrari, Lamborghini and other sports car manufacturers would have special fast Indian models with as high as 100-150 ips as top speeds.
3. The concept would distance would change. Instead of Kms, distance would be measured and represented in hrs on the road signage. For, example Bandra to Kandivali would be 5N / 8R where N denotes normal and R rainy conditions respectively. Similarly, Colaba to Mira Road would be 18N/ 24R and Juhu to Panvel would be 24N/ 36R.
4. Because vehicles would have to spend prolonged period of time on the road, driving bumper to bumper at a speed of 5ips, all cars would be manufactured with gigantic petrol tanks. Passenger cars would resemble oil tankers. But auto pilot and proximity detectors would be mandatory installations. These sophisticated equipments would allow, the driver to do shopping or taking a quick nap, while the vehicle would be pre programmed to crawl in accordance with the speed of the vehicle in front and the rear, for a limited period of time. Gears would be extinct; all vehicles would have three automatic modes- reverse, crawl and auto-pilot.
5. Only people will immense patience and wisdom would survive, others would either die from the stress, road rage or in the ambulance enroute to hospitals. That would make the society more peaceful, young and advanced.
6. As it will take days to reach from one destination from other, offices would allow flexi timings. Office cubicle would house bunk-beds and lockers. Toilets would have shower cubicles and changing rooms. A dynamic resource monitoring system would map the working hours logged and compute the weekend hours accordingly. For example let’s assume every employee has to clock 40 working hours per week. Let’s say, an employee would start for office on Monday morning from Borivali and reach Colaba by Tuesday early morning during the monsoons. Now he will have to spend Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday by physically staying at office to log in 40 productive hours. The system would then allow him 48 hours of weekend. So the employee can leave office on Thursday night and reach home by Friday night. Unfortunately, the employee won’t be able to spend 48 hours at home because he will need another 24 hours to drive to office next week. For senior management and Directors of companies, driving hours would be considered productive and they would be entitled for longer weekends.
7. All vehicles would run in alternative bio-fuels which would include human wastes. Special arrangement would be made so that drivers and passengers can take bio-breaks inside their vehicles, which would be directly processed by the engine to generate power.
8. There would be Rescue Driver service who would, as the name suggests rescue the vehicles, in case there’s an emergency and the driver decide to abandon the vehicle midway and walks to his destination. Rescue drivers would work in close contact with the police and mobile mental asylums to rescue the cars abandoned by drivers who has gone mad with frustration.
9. Driving would be the next best lucrative profession after Pilots and MPs. The salary of drivers would be as high as CEOs and Director’s of companies. So, no one would be able to afford drivers except HNIs, the rich disabled and their children. Driving schools would issue degree certificates viz. Bachelor of Driving (B. Drv), Masters (M. Drv) or Doctorate (D. Drv) to the pupils as per their achievement.
10. It could cost a fortune to obtain a driving license. There would be a six level screening and counseling session including physical, emotional and mental health check-ups. All applicants would be tested in a simulated environment for 24 hours before announcing them fit for driving.
11. There would be mobile hospital (MOHO) vans fully functional with OPDs, IPDs, OTs and recovery rooms. An intelligent system of telephone hotline would connect the ailing to the nearest mobile hospital, which would take care of the patient that point forward. Delivery of babies, heart attacks, trauma and accident emergencies would be easily catered through such hospitals. These MOHOs will admit the patient and start the treatment enroute to his/ her home or the Hospital HQ, depending on the severity. In case of death they would deliver the body to the patient’s home free of charge. Rescue drivers would deliver the vehicle back home.
12. There would be mobile shopping vans selling vegetables, clothing, groceries, electronics, books and everything else money can buy. Similarly there would be massage parlours, laundry, ATMS, beauty parlors, lawyer’s office, stock broking and real estate consultancy and career counseling all on the move. However, mobile bars won’t be allowed, as drinking and driving would still be an offence.
13. Unsolicited calls from Insurance agents, credit card companies and Mutual Funds would cease to exist. There would be trained personnel who will knock at the vehicle windows to sell their products.
14. There would be on road services to cater to all kinds of tastes. There will be ROWs (restaurant on wheels), WOWs (waiter on wheels) to HOWs (Hookers on wheels, albeit illegal).
15. Cycles would be banned being too fast, due to the increased risk of accident to the rider. Only cops and emergency service providers like dudhwala’s, dabbawala’s and rescue drivers would get special permission to use cycles.
16. Auto rickshaws would only be used as VIP vehicles and ambulance, for their sheer ability to negotiate through thick traffic in emergency situations.
17. Two wheelers would be ceased to exist, due to their inefficiency to withstand long journeys through potholed roads. However, special licenses would be issued to stuntmen performing at circus and Death well (Mauth ka Kuan).
18. Potholes would be leased to companies, who would conserve, beautify and maintain them. There would be proud and loud signboards like “This pothole is maintained by L&T since 2010- It’s all about Imageening” or “This is a Kingfisher Pothole- Enjoy the Good Times” or “ Microsoft Pothole – Where Do You Want to Go Today?”
19.Anti-gravity cars, robot drivers, honest cops and smooth roads would still be subjects of research and development and millions of Rupees would be spend to fund the ambitious projects.
I can foresee, the Mumbai model would be highly successful in India and would be imitated by other fast growing countries. Being able to use the commuting time productively and efficiently, Indian economy will grow in leaps and bounds and emerge as one of the most powerful nations to control the global future.
Rocket Singh: The Task of Zero Monday, 14 December, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Gauhar Khan, Jaideep Sahni, Mukesh Bhatt, Mumbai, Nitin Rathore, office, politics, Prem Chopra, Raghav Lawrence, Ranbir Kapoor, Rocket Singh, Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year, Shazahn Padamsee, Shimit Amin
This review was first published on PFC. [link]
I had a great weekend with three good movies after a long long time. The movies were Paa, Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year and Chalo Let’s Go (a Bangla film by Anjun Dutt).
All the three movies had an intrinsic feel-good humane factor on them and I thought of writing about the film I could associate the most with, (probably like many others) – Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year !
Rocket Singh is a movie about work culture in Indian offices and its conflict with individual aspirations. Before seeing the movie, I have read that every good reviewer, who has seen Boiler Room or Glengarry Glen Ross (I have not seen this one) can’t refrain from mentioning them on the context. After seeing the movie I can understand why.
Rocket Singh is not the first film to be made on the subject of dirty office politics, unethical business policies, honesty and values- we have Bhandarkar’s unbelievably melodramatic Corporate, which was more like a soap (in a laundry, pun intended). Then we have subtle humane treatment of the subject in classics like Sai Paranjpye’s Katha (1983) which showcases the different paths chosen by the protagonists in the workplace, amazingly portrayed by Farookh Sheikh and Nasiruddin Shah. Rocket Singh scores somewhere in between. The term ‘Rocket’ also reminds me of one of my delhiwala colleague who often used the term ‘this is no rocket science’. Indeed it is not, to make a movie worth watching.
The plot premise and characters are fairly practical thought not exactly convincing enough to plug the intriguing missing links. A nice serious looking young surd, Harpreet Singh, is an academically challenged fresh graduate living with his grandpa (Prem Chopra- adorably impressive and snug). On his first interview with a company in the business of assembled PCs, his efforts are noticed by the company chief and he is immediately hired as a salesman. Various characters emerge in the scene- a stone faced bitchy (and compensating-ly sexy) receptionist, a sales boss with weird side burns and mush, a no nonsense well networked top boss, a perpetually horny Hyderabadi IT geek, an underdog timid Peon and a bunch of target driven salesmen, always biting others back and throwing rockets to our man, Harpreet. Soon enough, conflicts surface, bubbles of illusions burst by pins of reality and the characters gets stitched into a fairy tale like storyline where the line between dishonesty and retribution is blurred, (in typical Jaideep Sahani panache demonstrated earlier in his Khosla Ka Ghosla) to a desirable, dramatic and outspoken climax with an age old ‘moral of the story’. It’s like Panchatantra, retold.
What I liked in this movie is definitely the characters and the superb cast. Standing ovation to Abhimanyu Ray for one of the best assembled cast and Director Shimit Amin for getting delightfully enjoyable performances out of them. Sample the motley crew (not in any order of though)-
Ranbir Kapoor as Harpreet Singh Bedi is calm, innocent, honest and thus vulnerable, yet firm. Not an easy combo to find, these days. He represents the work force of common man which runs the machinery with their sweat and wipes it with their tie. Basically, a ‘zero guy’ who makes it big and fast.
As I mentioned earlier, Prem Chopra as P.S. Bedi is a surprise treat in a short role.
Girish Reddy aka Giri (D.Santosh) – The horny Hyderabadi, who sleeps in the office when not watching swimsuit babes. Curly hair, droopy eyes, wicked grin, genuine lingo and bankable attitude- surely one of the notable performances in the movie.
Shazahn Padamsee as Sherena reminds me of Juhi Chawla in her Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman days. She looks fresh and does whatever she was supposed to in her minuscule role. However minuscule role doesn’t necessarily need miniscule dresses, the director may note. Or is it that leg-piece defines the quality of a debut chic?
Chhotelal Mishra (Mukesh Bhatt)- this guy was great in Gulaal, good to see he is getting bigger roles to portray his talent. I am sure he is of the same caliber of the underrated actors like Vijay Raaz and Sanjay Mishra.
Nitin Rathore (Naveen Kaushik)- this guy definitely reminded me of Van Diesel in Boiler Room. Sharp, smart, penetrative and sadistic to colleagues- an ideal salesman! Wish his make up was better.
Koena (Gauhar Khan, Sister of Negar Khan) – stern front office lady with a twisted humour quotient.
Boss Puri (Manish Chaudhary)- little over dramatized of the lot and definitely not the best make up example with that artificial mush.
However, there are aspects of the film which I didn’t like.
The body language, characteristics, lingo of the people doesn’t fit Mumbai. Any Mumbai salesman worth his second class season ticket will vouch for that. No salesman travels from Mira Road to Nariman point in a scooter. That happens in Delhi. The boss Puri is just out of a Nehru Place or a Lajpat Nagar office, not a Grand road guy. The PC parts vendor Lalwani looks more like a Chandni Chowk guy. Overall, the premise screams of a Delhi flavour, which seems to be forced as Mumbai, for unexplained reasons.
Some parts of the script are just loose. I did think about some inevitable questions-
Which part of Mumbai were Harpreet staying? ( like KKG was very clear on the locality)
Why is Harpreet Singh staying with his grandpa? Why there’s no mention of his parents, even once?
How did Harpreet afford to drink in plush lunge bars with his friends?
What business was Sherena and her partner into?
How can you make a convincing Mumbai movie without traffic jam, trains, cutting chai, rains and atleast the Fiat cabs?
How can a sales office function without mobile phones? Which year are we talking about?
Why there’s nothing in the name of office security?
Not probing deep, I think the writing should have been little for convincing and less fairy tale like.
Finally, the dialogues were more like Abbas-Mastan type, stressing on cheesy one-liners and weird analogies.
‘Risk to Spiderman ko bhi lena pdta hai, hum to salesman hai’, is it good enough to be used many times in the movie?
The title song pocket mein Rocket was absent in the movie, which was a disappointment for me.
However, there are many more laugh out loud moments, pleasant detailing and well crafted sequences to enjoy, than nitpicking on minuses. Rocket Singh definitely rocks and sings better than the consistently inferior celluloid nautanki, we get to see otherwise.
So, thumbs up to Rocket Sales Corporation and its partners and middle finger to big guys of the industry.
Wake Up Sid: Serene Serendipity Tuesday, 6 October, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Amit Trivedi, Anupam Kher, Bombay, career, entertainment, family, Iktara, Konkona Sen Sharma, life, Love, movie, Mumbai, Music, photography, Ranbir Kapoor, Review, Rom-com, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Supriya Pathak, Wake Up Sid
I know, I have developed a reputation of writing bad movie reviews. The interpretation can either mean reviews of bad movies or bad reviews of movies; depending on how much disgusted you are with my reviews.
The point is that, I find it much easier to write on bad Bollywood movies. I normally don’t write on movies I like. There are two prime reasons for it.
One- the movies I like are quite obscure, mostly non-bollywood, sometimes even non-hollywood, rare and unheard of [check this article], which restricts my readers putting any useful comment. I find, getting a paltry response and not adding any value (other than notifying handful cinephiles about the existence of such movies) is not enough motivation for me to write about them. However, I have the intention of writing about them in future.
Two- the other type of movies I like are already famous and have obtained a cult following. The reputation of those movies won’t change irrespective whether I write about them or not. Such movies are too popular and have been discussed to death in popular forums. Hence there’s little left to be discussed afresh. So there’s not enough motivation to write on them either.
That leaves me with a very rare occurrence- a new Bollywood movie which is also a Directoral debut, that I can’t resist writing about. Examples- Khosla Ka Ghosla (Dibakar Bannejee),Manorama 6 ft Under (Navdeep Singh), Taare Zameen Par (Aamir Khan), Barah Aana (Raja Menon), 99 (Krishna D K). I beleive a good debut deserves a good review.
I liked Wake Up Sid, the debut film of Director Ayan Mukherjee [writer and asst director of Swadesh and KANK]. Honestly, I kept my fingers crossed knowing it’s the first bonding between K-Jo and Yashraj, both I hate to the core for their overdose of romance, melodrama and uncommon nonsense.
The basic story of Wake Up Sid is an intelligent cocktail of the ingredients taken from the following successful movies, especially the ones by Farhan Akhtar -
1. Jane Tu Ya Jane Na – Today’s youth culture, electronic lifestyle, hedonism and confusion between love and friendship.
2. Dil Chahta Hai- A today’s perspective of urbane and jovial youth, living for the present, escaping from the future
3. Lakshya- Dilemma of youth towards the right choice of career, life, ambition and it’s repercussions
4. Luck by Chance- Tale of struggle and aspiration of a newcomer in Mumbai.
5. Life in a Metro- Relationship and stress in a big city life.
As it should be well understood, nothing in this script is ‘new’ at all- a young boy, college friends, parties, rich self-made dad, a sweet mom semi-blind with affection, hedonistic lifestyle, carefree friendship, defocused future and love disguised as friendship. On the other part we have a new girl in town, confident and aspiring, looking for independence and a future in the big city. They meet, they live together and the rest is formula. Like most rom-coms, the script takes some liberty of over-romanticizing of the situation.
Yet, the movie is a superior from the bollywood bandwagon in lot of aspects. Unlike other bollywood potboilers, it’s not an over the top, melodramatic family drama soaked in bucketful of emotion and impossibilities. Rather it’s a sharp, soft, suave, elegant, practical, colorful, joyous presentation of humdrum life sequences which involves the audience with its not so unexpected twirls. It’s simple, feel good entertainment.
For a change, I would keep this one short and list out my reasons for liking the movie-
Exceptional direction by Ayan Mukherjee with a difficult combination of fresh faces and veteran actors like Anupam Kher and Supriya Pathak. Like most Bollywood movies, there’s a radical and distinct change in ambiance in first and second half in terms of pace and progress, which would have different appeal to different viewers depending on which generation s/he belongs to.
Ranbir Kapoor is outstanding in his roles, with his natural and high coolness quotient, expressive eyes and just the perfect body language. Konkona heavily reminded me of her role in Luck by Chance and Life in Metro, especially for the conversations on overhead tank scenes of the latter. She is brilliantly ordinary and poignant. I think, this would be one of her best role in commercial Hindi film and one of the best on screen chemistry after Irrfan Khan in Life in a Metro. Anupam Kher’s rock-steady performance as affluent but unconventionally responsible dad, complements Supriya Pathak’s projection as a lovable mom, trying to bond the pieces of mother–son relationship with her broken English. Rahul Khanna did much better than Bobby Deol (Dostana) and himself (Love Aaj Kaal) in similar roles. In other short roles Namit Das (Rishi) and Shikha Talsania (as Laxmi, is she daughter of Tiku Talsania btw ?) did wonderfully well, the sparkle in Namit’s eyes and friendship in Shikha’s heart is too bright to be missed. Kashmira Shaw does her bit believably. However, the eye candy girl Tanya’s (Kainaz Motiwala- weirdly fair and fresh) story ended abruptly. The Amit guy (Munir Kabani- facebook profile) of the Mumbai beat magazine was prominent with his intellectual-photographer get-up ( something like Prateek Babbar in Jaane Tu, who was also named Amit)
Shankar- Ehsan- Loy’s music with Javed Akhtar‘s lyric is trendy, catchy and groovy. The title track is a potential chartbuster, but I liked the softer ‘Jaisa hai koi Iktara Iktara’ composed by Amit Trivedi ( Aamir, Dev D) sung by Kavita Seth/ Amitabh Bhattacharyya. The song and visual combo of “Life is Crazy” is probably the most conventional one, yet enjoyable.
The details in the movie is well thought out, the continuity objects are used very well, like the red Lamy used by Konkona or the DSLR of Ranbir. The production quality, camerawork, locations and overall theme is artistically vibrant, urban and contemporary. The set design of the Mumbai Beat magazine office resembled more like a Artist’s studio! Some part of the movie reminds us about the fading romanticism of Bombay (Mumbai, for some sick touchy retard whose a*shole is bigger than his brains) which most of us have lost, in the run. It talks about loving it’s people to love a city.
The movie talks about one’s choice of passion over convention as career, in Sid’s case – Photography. I could connect with him when he realizes that he inherited his flair for photography from his dad, and gives his first pay check to him. That was one of the most emotional yet life like moment of the movie.
This movie would definitely connect strongly to the generation of the achieved Ram Mehras and the generation of the aimless Sids, yet for us who belong somewhere in between, who has lost something to gain something, can pause to say ‘been there, done that’, before stepping into bigger responsibilities of life.
Overall, a clean cinema with abundant light humour, nominal drama about subtle sweet truths of life packed in a superior production design- a perfect treat for the family!