Friday, March 27, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin’s Bottom

It was a late night party at IIFT, and there was blood on the dance floor. Literally.

Benjamin (name changed to protect identity) sat in the signature Gandhi pose, legs folded behind and supporting his torso, palms placed on the knees, his posture tilting noticeably to the right, like he was trying to minimize any contact with the left cheek of his gluteus maximus.

As Benjy whispered “kaise…kown…kyon??” I ran the events of the evening through my rather worried mind, to try and come up with the answers.

It was like any other IIFT party. We used to host all our big parties in a part of the building called Top Of The World (TOTW). It was a circular, raised, open air kind of place. Ideally suited for parties.

I was the DJ, shoving cassettes in and out rapidly out of the 2-in-1 hooked to the “DJ console” from Bhatia Sound Company in Katwaria Sarai. The flashing “traffic signal’ lights from Lallan Lights added to the festive mood.

In those days, the CD culture had not stamped out the cassettes industry, so DJ-ing was a real tough job. You had to set the songs in the cassettes to the precise second they started, by playing them on a walkman, while one song was already on. And as soon as the playing number faded, and the crowd still cheering; you quickly slipped in the next tape and the party continued. I was the best in class at this.

Being the DJ had its privileges. You had power that was unmatched. Not only did you control the desi beats, you could also monitor the whole party. Who did what, who slapped whom, who flirted, who puked.. the whole nine yards!

But as I realized that day, with great power comes great responsibility. When something goes wrong, the junta turns to the DJ for answers.

The party was in, well, full swing. The booze was flowing; the smell of tobacco in the air, the chips and pakodas were constantly dipped in sauce and found their way into hungry, happy mouths.

If an impartial observer were to witness and report back on the party, he would use Kareena’s famously pouted line from one of her item numbers – “It’s Rocking…!”

The guys were busy dancing (our batch had steps ranging from the “mating peacock” ~hands in the air, strange puckered expression on face, and pelvis bucking to a fast beat~ to “moon-hopping” ~pose akimbo and hop across the dance floor whooping hoi-hoi-hoi-hoi~ ).
The girls were joining in selectively, but were mostly hovering in bunches and laughing at the desperate attempts at seducing them.

Benjy always danced close to the DJ table. I think he liked creating the illusion that he was somehow responsible for the songs being played. He would make it a point to be the first to whoop in joy after every song change and would goad the crowd with fists pumping in the air to dance harder.

His own dancing style can best be described as vigorous. To the untrained eye, it would appear that he was trying hard to remain on top of a treadmill and at the same time trying to pluck out a frisky eel that had slithered down his back. But everyone in the party knew that he was just ‘shaking his bon-bon’. Like Caesar reveling in a wild Roman orgy.
It was at the fag end of the party, that I noticed something was wrong. Benjy had stopped gyrating. He had a rather stunned look on his face and was contorting strangely to get a look at his own derrière. He would also pat his glutei gingerly with his fingers and hold them against the light to inspect them.

I was a bit intrigued so I put on Remo’s Flute song and hopped over to him.

Me: Benjy, kya hua? (Benjy, what happened?)

Benjy: Abey Shome yaar, khoon nikal raha hai. (Shome buddy, its bleeding)

Me: Khoon??!! (adequately concerned look on my face) Kahan se? (Bleeding? From where?)
Benjy: (voice quivering ever so lightly) Mere g**d se, yaar! ~a hint of desperation in his voice~ (from my Ass!)

He turned around with remarkable swiftness and said “yeh dekh!” as he stuck his alleged wounded cheek at me.

I recoiled a bit, but then managed to focus my sight, given the gravity of the situation, to try and understand what the issue was. There was an red stain on his left butt cheek.

My cynical mind processed the situation and tried to come up with the most likely cause.

Me: Benjy yaar! Koi sauce laga ke chala gaya hai teri g**d pe! (Benjy buddy, someone has smeared some sauce on your ass!)
Benjy: ~turning around and hissing viciously~ “SAUCE??!! Sale sauce laga ke, kha ke bhi gaya hai kya?? Kitna dard ho raha hai!!” (Sauce??!! Did they smear sauce and take a bite as well? Its aching like hell!)
It was then that I knew it was serious. There was a Brutus in the party who had stabbed the resident Caesar in his back(side).

The music stopped and we all gathered around. Benjy had collapsed o the Gandhi pose by then and was whispering out the “who…how… why??” questions. And everyone was looking at me for answers.

Fact is, I had no clue. Someone had deflated Benjy’s bon-bon and I had not seen it. A blood thirsty butt-stabber on the prowl, and I, as the DJ, the he-who-sees-all, the sanity-keeper, had failed in my duties to spot the bugger.

Needless to say, the party folded up and I was sacked as the DJ for all remaining IIFT parites, Benjy’s sitting posture changed for ever, and he never really danced the way he did earlier. The Emperor had lost his groove.

To this day it troubles my mind, as to who it was that stabbed Benjy’s behind.

The Curious Case of Benjamin’s Bottom remains unsolved.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Plump-Fog-Villain-Heir ....... a guide on how to make an award winning TRASHY movie....

The whole world is going ga-ga-goo-goo over Slumdog Millionaire. India’s ‘chatterrati’ have quickly appropriated the movie as Indian. ~pretty much the same way Kolkata claims that Mother Teresa is Bengali. Also Maradona Da ; ) ~

The queen of glib gaggle, Shobha De, wrote a painfully pretentious piece on ToI the other day. Commenting on the movie she gushes:

"It cut terrifyingly close to the bone as it took us straight into the innards of this brutal world, where wide-eyed kids lose their innocence (and their eyes) at the hands of ruthless gangsters who mutilate, maim, kidnap and kill at will."

Now, I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I know a bit about it. If I didn’t, then this one line in her piece would have ensured that I never see the movie!

I don’t think that Ms Shobha has completely understood the driving reason of why most Indian’s go to see a movie. My understanding is that they go to a movie to get entertained and escape from precisely the kind of ‘reality’ that she talks of.

She even slammed the desi directors by pressing cntrl+B on her article when she said:

“And the first thought that came to mind is that it has taken an 'outsider' (Danny Boyle), to go fearlessly into 'No Man's Land' and hold up a mirror to our sordid society — the same one that looks the other way... and flinches when confronted.”

I guess it’s her desire to escape from all the trappings of a vacuous urban existence that makes her want to see more of the “other side”. Rest of India would much rather see more of the glitzy ‘India Shining’ world, than pay money to see their own lives replayed on a big screen.

Most Indian movie makers know this, and that’s why they make the movies they do.

Commercial Hindi movies would be so boring if they were to be “realistic”.

Imagine a scene where the hero walks fearlessly into the villain’s den. Typically the dialogue-baazi would be like this:

Hero: KK! Apni Maa ka doodh piya hai, toh bahar nikal kutte! Tere
paap ka pyala bhar chuka hai, kameeney!

KK: Kiski maut aayi hai jo KK ko lalkaar raha hai??

Hero: Maut meri nahin teri aayi hai KK! Aaj main tere is paap ki
nagri ko nesto-naboot kar doonga! Yeh Arjun ka vaada hai!!

KK: Arjun?! Aaj tu bach nahin payega, haraamzade!!

Typically wild applause, whistles, and hooligan like whopping ensues in the cinema hall when this scene plays out!

Now imagine if we were to be bitten by the “realism” bug. This entire exchange would be dry and insanely boring:

Hero: KK. Bahar aa….b@#*n c#*d

KK: Kown hai bey??!!

Hero: Arjun.

KK: Ruk teri maa ki…aaj tu gaya.


Where is the drama, the emotion, the surge of vendetta that’s supposed to swell up in your blood and bones???

This is the mistake the “parallel” cinema movement made. It was doomed to fail. But let by-times be by-times. Now that some amount of world attention will be on Indian cinema, following the success of Slumdog, I thought it’s important to explain the pillars of successful movie making in India to the eager global audience.

It’s a simple formula: Plump-Fog-Villain-Heir


This is about the women. India likes its women, well, Anjata-esque. It’s a sign of fecundity.

The South has taken this to the extreme and made “women of substance” a participation ticket to success.

North is in denial but it works in subversive, subliminal ways. Remember all the talk of Kareena and size ‘Zero’ last year? While the chatterrati was swooning over ‘health’ concerns, the regular viewer was cribbing: “kaisi lag rahi hai yaar. Mazza nahin aaya..”

Kareena’s weight loss was not about HER, it was about THEM.

So if you want to make a good, insanely successful trashy Indian movie, make sure the women are PLUMP. From the heroine to the dhobin to the Russian dancers, all must be ‘pusht’ and ‘tandrust’.


This is a critical one, as fog operates at two levels – the REAL and the METAPHORICAL.

At the real level, all the ‘twists’ in the plot happen in fog – murder, conspiracy, havas ka nanga naach.

At the metaphorical level, fog underlines the very basics of a Hindi movie. As one leading actor recently said, “I like making movies which have no logic. There is no plot. Leave your brains outside and come see the movie to get entertained. That’s what the public pays money for.”

Plots of successful trashy movies must be FOGGY. There can be no logical sequence. For example, a mother can breast feed a snake to avenge her family!


A good trashy movie needs a well defined villain. It’s important to paint the world black and white to avoid the everyday dull grey of ‘realism’.

So go look for the next Colonel Chikara, Dong (jo kabhi wrong nahin hota) or Ibu Hatela before you start thinking of cracking open the Indian movie market.

And try and give him a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, like “main hindustan ko barbaad kar doonga”, instead of something chindi-choresque like “jao uski maa ko utha ke le aao”.


This is important, as it involves the hero. The hero must be the ‘heir’ to something. Ideally Richie Rich like fortune, which is denied to him by the Villain.

He could also inherit and be the heir to his mother’s pledge of revenge, or his sister’s plea to avenge or his Gandhi-esque baap’s vow to scavenge through life.

Either way, he needs to be the Heir of something. It gives him reason to trance and dance around the screen for the next three hours.

Put these four things together people and you have an award winning TRASHY MOVIE. I must say that this structure rivals the BCG matrix when it comes to ensuring unparallel fame and fortune for investors.

I have flashed my light on the road to success now. Run on it and thank me later.