Tuesday, June 07, 2005

An entertaining weekend....ahem!

Two things of note from the weekend.

Watched Bunty aur Babli. Complete waste of money, time and effort (although I still think Abhishek Bacchan is very cool). The first half of the movie was funny enough, good character build-ups and the story seemed to be going somewhere. Enter Amitabh Bacchan at the halfway point – looking slovenly and anything but a police inspector – and it was all downhill from there. Felt like the first half was written by someone who gave up halfway and handed over story development to a loony. Some of the dialogue was brilliant, the songs were alright, the costumes and pictography quite interesting, but the storyline just let it all down.

For those planning to go watch, DON’T! Here’s the story: Abhishek and Rani both leave their hometowns and families to follow their dreams in big cities. They team up quite by accident, on a railway platform. Both get their dream crushed underfoot by people trying to take advantage of them. Finding this dearth of decent (!) people to help them achieve their dreams, they decide to make their way to Bombay where they hope to make it big like the industrialists. With no money to get there they begin scamming their way through north India, collecting cars, cash and even a hotel room full of stuff before landing in Mumbai. Enroute they change their names to Bunty & Babli (B&B), fall in love, get married, sing a few songs – the usual. By the time they get to Mumbai they are so used to the scams way of life that they just continue. Meanwhile intermission has brought on Amitabh whose life mission is to catch the pair and put them behind bars. And so the chase begins. B&B are now in Mumbai expecting a child and meet Amitabh at a bar of some kind. Aishwarya pops out of nowhere to sing a song with them (so bizarre!) and they all part with B&B realising who Amitabh is but him not guessing who they are. Then B&B plan one final scam to get some government gold from the airport that AMitabh is guarding. Big final chase during which Amitabh tweaks who they are, pursue’s them through the whole child being born scene and finally catches them just as they decide to become good citizens again. Amitabh let’s them go free based on some really badly played emotional technicality. Then the scene cuts to them 3 years on, living in their village bringing up their son and walking the straight and narrow path. Amitabh find them and gets them to agree to help him fight con artists and unearth scams. They walk into sunset in Men in Black suits. End of movie. YAY! I was really ready to leave by the time Ash broke into surprise song……..If you haven’t seen it don’t bother. This is a movie which needs no brains so leave ‘em behind if you must watch it. It’s a movie where the sum of the good parts adds up to one awful hindi mess!

On the brighter side, we wandered around the lovely (read big, bright and clean) town centre mall in Wandsworth before the movie and bought 7 new DVD’s to keep us occupied for the next many weeks:
1. Schindler’s List
2. Love Actually
3. Moulin Rouge
4. Something’s gotta give
5. About Schmidt
6. The Ladykillers
7. Ocean’s Twelve

Far better end to the weekend was the fact that I finished the book I was reading (Book 7 for purposes of this blog only - I've actually whizzed through about 25 books this year so far). I picked up The Collector’s Wife by Mitra Phukan the day before I was leaving Delhi to come back to London. This is the first novel I have read about contemporary life in Assam and it left me fascinated. The main protagonist is Rukmini, married to the Parbatpuri District Collector, Siddharth Bezboruah. She teaches English Literature to mostly uncomprehending students at the local college and does just about as much as is needed of her to play the role of a suitable Indian wife. Rukmini’s life is also intensly interwoven with the political situation in Assam. Being a teacher and the collector’s wife, she has a view of both sides - the administration led by her husband and the students who have begun a somewhat idealistic anti-migrant movement.

Rukmini’s personal life is also in some turmoil. Taunted by older women for her barrenness and somewhat neglected by her workaholic husband, she tries hard to find a purpose in life. Enter the alternate hero, Manoj Mahanta, salesman from a tyre company, who at one time had what could be called the benefits of a classical education and has managed to retain them through the mundaneness of his everyday job (thus making him very attractive to Rukmini). With whirlwind events, all entangled in the political strife, Rukmini’s discovers to her horror that her husband too has an adulterous reason for ignoring her. And as the political turmoil escalates, Rukmini’s story too spirals into unimaginable horror.

The backdrop of Assam (notably the change in season and the natural beauty each demonstrates), the kidnapping, extortion, killing and the fight for an independent homeland make for a gripping narrative. Mitra Phukan’s first book is a achievement in finely weaving together the issues of tolerance, hatred, loyalty, belonging and mere indifference. Much enjoyed!

With the weekend done and dusted (indluding a satisfying meal at Dalchini), I'm back to the mundane jobhunt...


  1. Hey the book sounds interesting!

    And not all was lost on Bunty and Babli....I mean, I liked a couple of songs! :):D

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