An Education of Sorts

Can watching pulp movies be educational? Yes, if you watch them with some attention. And particularly, if you watch them just after you have watched an entire day's shooting for a movie in the making. This is precisely what I did this weekend (which started on Thursday-lucky me). I first saw the shoot of a new Telugu film being shot- on a cricket field, coz the story is that of a school cricket team coming back from the dead. Called Golconda High School in the film. Learnt a lot about getting your act together, camera angles, shot conceptualisation, number of shots you can shoot on a good day (about 40?), and the like. It was hot as hell, but the crew worked 10 hours a day, making us academics look silly. Trolley shots (camera on the rails moving straight ahead or back following a character), crane shots (from atop a crane), plain long shots, close-ups, each has its own place in a movie, and can enhance the efect of what's being shown.

Then I saw two Telugu films, one Hindi film and one Agatha Christie classic, in a span of two days or so. Excellent education, I'd say. I liked Chak De the best, of all. Crisp editing does it for me. Plotwise, Agatha Christie wins hands down. But interesting touches in the two Telugu films- Sye has some nice rugby scenes though they come too late, and A Film by Arvind (that's the title) starts off well with a director finding an incomplete script, and life imitating fiction (the script), before losing its way in the dark-literally.

I uploaded my autobiography in 20 odd pieces on a website, and found it got a lot of readers- you can find it on the website if you search for My Experiments with Half-truths.

Bappi da

While watching a retro song show today on TV, I suddenly rediscovered my love for some of Bappi Lahiri's songs. He was famous as a disco music director, but many of his tunes were very melodious, including the College Girl songs (Pyaar Maanga hai tumhi se), the Chalte Chalte tracks, and many more.

The one I was watching was a Namak Halaal song- Raat Baki, Baat Baki, Hona hai jo, ho jane do. He sings for Shashi Kapoor in this one. His peculiar accent in Hindi reminds me of another song in one of Mithun Chakraborty's 'desi Bond' movies. There is a song picturised on him and Kalpana Iyer, the femme fatale. Usha Uthup and Bappida sang the duet, and it's difficult to say who is the male singer and who is the female.

For some reason, whenever I heard Bob Marley, I was always reminded of Bappi Lahiri. I think Mithun owes a lot of his success to the disco beats of Bappida too.


A scriptorium in an abbey.. in medieval Italy.. that is where the action takes place in The Name of The Rose by Umbert Eco...I finally finished the book, and thought it would have been twice as good if it was half as long..I have this feeling abut movies, TV shows, and many things, except games of golf..Discovered a new golf course in Nagpur, and played there this weekend..will continue through the year on weekends or other opportune occasions. Food, friends and Thums Up was an old tag line. Modify it to Golf, Friends and Fraternity.

Nothing like a game of golf to clear all other thoughts (pleasant or unpleasant)and concentrate on the here and now, as I keep saying. So here and now I am, at least some of the time. Whoever invented the game, hats off to him.

The Name of the Rose

Umberto Eco's novel by this name is what I am reading- about halfway through it. He has a rather long-winded style of describing places- the action here happens in an abbey in medieval Italy, with a lot of 'orders' of Christianity fighting for upmanship, and intrigue, and murders happening in the abbey. The detective is a guest at the abbey, also a holy master of some 'order'.

A period novel, very nicely built up suspense, though very different from the Sherlock Holmes or Poirot variety. Takes more patience to read, but could be an acquired taste. Since I haven't reached the denoument yet, can't comment on it. But it kept me company through a flight to Indore and back, and helped keep the mind off the insipid food.

One of the interesting exchanges in the abbey described is about whether laughter is good or bad. Arguments of various people, starting from Aristotle, are listed.

Now, that's one thing about which there is no argument about in my mind...laughter is the medicine for all times.

Golf as Meditation

Putting two and two together- golf and meditation, I think I have discovered the perfect blend of what I need, I can say with some pride. Why meditation? Because it needs concentration, forgetting yourself and your daily dose of worries, anxieties, and so on. When you are focussed on the golf ball, just before you take a swing at it, that's exactly what happens. Meditation of a sort, even though you don't call it that- this will be my patented phrase. Oh, well, forget it, you are not supposed to remember this world and its patenting policies. People in high places even forget whose parents they are (and therefore the many paternity cases).

I have just restarted swinging the golf club, and therefore this new-found gyan. Swing it away, folks, and you shall have no worries.

Phantom Limbs

The other strange finding from the experiments of the good brain doctor (author of Phantoms in the Brain) is about phantom limbs. It seems a lot of patients who have a limb amputated (cut off, in plain English) due to disease or accident, still have sensations in the amputated limb. They can also feel pain in it!

Some innovative treatments that the neurologist proposes are visualising in front of a mirror that you have the limb and then 'adjusting' the brain to the new information. For some inexplicable reasons, this treatment has worked. The moral of the story is that the brain's neurons readjust to new information (eg: amputation) in a particular way. They also get sensations from another body part (eg: face) which replicates the lost part (maybe an arm or foot)in terms of reproducing the same sensation. Touching the face may feel to the patient as if his (non-existent) arm is being touched. This is in accordance with a map (Penfield Map) that specifies which parts of the body are close to each other in their original sensations in the healthy individual. Fascinating stuff, but the author hastens to say, there is a lot that they don't know yet...

Phantoms in the Brain

Reading a book called Phantoms in the Brain. Assuming there is one, it is interesting to figure out how the brain works. Some of this knowledge is in the realm of speculation, but that's because neuro-science is in its infancy, compared to say, gravity, or electromagnetism. The author, a scientist of Indian origin in the US. He explains a lot of facts and a lot of speculative theories based on his experiments with his patients, and those of others.

Seems like he has some answers for questions about paralysis, and possible treatment for some types of it, and some ideas on how various parts of the brain (modules or components) perform what control functions. Interesting, that some forms of 'madness' are really due to damage to some small parts of the brain controlling for example, recognition of shapes, or some motor skills, or some numerical ability. The effect of damaged right brain and damaged left brain, are amazingly different.

Leaves you wanting to understand more, because the size of our brain (compared to other beings and our ancestors) is supposed to be larger. Now, if only we could start to use it.....

A Lovely Weekend

In the midst of Nagpur hootting up, I had a lovely weekend- in Delhi, attending IMT Nagpur's alumni party at the Radisson. Delhi seemed like Shimla after the heat back home, and added to it was the large and enthusiastic gathering. Best part was the chance to meet a lot of different alumni one-on-one (some one-on-two, since they were accompanied by spouses)and have a chat about their progress in career, life, memories of their alma mater, and various things besides.

It was very well orgainsed by a team of current students, led by Sarah and Ankit, who are on their summer projects. Starting off with a short welcome speech, and a video of the happenings on campus, and ending with dinner. Lots of people stayed back till close to midnight, and enjoyed interacting with their batchmates and seniors/juniors.

New ideas for bonding with IMT were tossed about, and a few of these will surely be taken up and be implemented before we meet again. Alumni are a great source of strength for every institution, and keep the buzz going. Just a few months ago, I attended the 25th reunion of my batch at IIMB, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, like this one.

Murakami Whodunit

Read a book by Hariku (?) Murakami called Dance, Dance, Dance. Translated from the Japanese. I was reading fiction after a long time, and couldn't put the book down. It is a bit unusual, in the sense that it combines the everyday whodunit with something like a whatdunit, and throws in a bit of 'who-am-I' and 'what-is-this-new-advanced-capitalistic society all about' kind of thing throughout the plot.

The most interesting relationship portrayed in the book is an unexpected one between the protagonist- male, 34 year old detective, and a 13 year old girl he's forced to mentor. The exchanges between them reminded me of some between me and my daughters, or, for that matter, most fathers and daughters. Some metaphysical beings are also thrown in, for good measure. Refreshing change from what I have been used to reading by way of fiction and whodunits. I may end up reading more of him, I think.

Had a couple of close encounters with an older (than I) set of relatives, and really enjoyed the conversation. Not all old guys are bores, is a welcome revelation as I trundle along into the category- no, of course I am not THERE yet!

My Name is Anthony Gonsalves

No, of course, it isn't. I am simple trying to recall some songs which made an impact when I first saw them on screen. Some like this o...

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