Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Excited about Omkara

The next movie I am really excited about watching is Vishal Bhardwaj's adaptation of the Shakespeare's Othello called Omkara. After watching Maqbool, I was convinced Bhardwaj does a great job with the adaptations. Irfan Khan and Tabu with Pankaj Kapur made a stellar star cast to bring the deception and treachary of Macbeth right to hindi cinema. Next comes Omakara which is set under the polictical backdrop of UP which seems so appropriate for Othello. Ajay Devgan is Othello, Kareena Kapoor is Desdemona, Saif Ali Khan is Iago, Konkona Sen Sharma is Emilia, Vivek Oberoi is Cassio and Bipasha Basu is the courtesan. It will be interesting to see how Saif does as a schemeing manipulator. This sounds totally different than what he has done so far. This character allows more shades of gray. The only part of the star cast that bothers me is Vivek Oberoi as Cassio. After Company he has not proven himself in a really good role, so there is a question mark on his casting. Though he might bring a certain level of guilability and naiveness to the character of Cassio. The trailer looks really good. I am waiting for its soundtrack to come out. Ajay Devgan has a great intensity in him as an actor which translates well to roles that command authority.

Mumbai the rudest city?

Reader's Digest did a survey of 35 cities worldwide to measure the level of civility in each of the city. Mumbai had the distinction of being at the rock bottom of the table. Now coming back to survey, the article on Mumbai is the rudest city states the three basic criteria used for judging the rudeness/civility of the cites. Here is the actual article

  • holding the door open for someone right behind you;
  • helping a passer-by pick up a dropped newspaper or pile of documents;
  • thanking shoppers after their retail experience.

After reading the list I wasn't surprized at all Mumbai was at the rock bottom. Another interesting observation to make most of the Asian countries surveyed are towards the lower end of the spectrum. Here is why the survey is a totally unfair comparison. They are judging cities across the world based on the definition of the etiquite in the western culture. Holding open a door for someone right behind you is a very western defintion of etiquite. None of the major Asian cultures subscribe to this idea as a notion of civility. Some people who have been exposed to a western education will prescribe to the notion others won't.

Thanking shoppers after their retail experience is a different kind of problem. There is a totally different dimension to this problem. Here is the key difference in the retail markets of the US vs India. In the US retail items are marked anywhere between 100-500 percentage profit range depending on the item. Selling one item is considered a succesful sale. However, in India the retail markup is not very high. The profit margins can range from 10-30 percent. To make the same money has the US counterparts, the salespeople have to sell 10 times more. In the process the sweet smile on the face, the sing-a-song "may I help you", "thank you for shopping with us", "are you finding everything all right" goes away. The focus on schmoozzing each client is not possible when you are trying to maximize the sale and not the experience of shopping

For this to have been a more credible survey, it would have been nice if they had distingushed between the western and eastern idea of etiquitte.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Music Review for Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (KANK)

Love them or hate them but you certainly can't ignore Karan Johar movies. So the music of KANK is finally out and whats the verdict? It is very Shankar-Ehsan-Loy-esque. Their trademark signature is all over the album. I don't mean that in a bad way. Even in A.R. Rahman compositions his signature is printed boldly on each of the songs. Since they last composed Kal Ho Na Ho for Karan Johar who produced the movie, there are definitely some parallels. But given that Kal Ho Na Ho was a fun album I was glad of the certain parallels. The soundtrack other than the title song is not something that grips you instantly; however, it definitely grows on you as listen to it again and again. Sonu Nigam renders the two romantic numbers in the movie with Alka Yagnik. They are the melanchony, romantic numbers which are easy on the ears. Both Sonu Nigam and Alka Yagnik bring a lot of emotion, passion and depth to these songs. It might have been interesting to have Shreya Ghosal croon atleast one these numbers. Here is a bigger thing that baffles me. Why is suddenly Sonu the king of "only" slow romantic numbers? He is as good at the fun happening songs as he is at the slow numbers. Case in point Fanaa and now KANK. Sonu is doing the slow numbers while Shaan is having the fun. Mix it up a little bit. Both Sonu and Shaan are extremely talented singers. The music directors need to bring out each of the different facets in these two melodious singers.

Among the fast numbers in KANK, "where's the party tonight" by Shaan and Vasundhara Das is a lot of fun. I can already see this playing at all the clubs in B'bay for days similar to Kajra re and Its the time to disco. It has a great beat to it. You can't help but swing to it. The "Farewell Trance" is very techno based and enjoyable. I personally haven't come to care for the two versions of "Mitwa". In my opnion they seem to bring the album down a little bit. I might change my mind in a few days or after seeing the picturization. The last number "Rock n Roll Soniye" is very cliched. Nothing really new to it, a very predominatly wedding themed. It would be no surprize if it is picturized on a wedding. I have a sneaky suspision thatit will be picturized on Amitabh given the way Shanker Mahadevan has gone all out singing this song.

Overall I would its a good album. Give a litte time before you decide to like it or hate.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Anybody else tired of Himmesh Reshmiya?

I was listening to a new movie score, "Ahista Ahista" which is composed by Himmesh Reshmiya. If I hear one more song in the nasal voice of his, I will be read to scream, or not listen to any of his crap ever again. So he got a great break with Aashiq Bana Banaya Apne. The novelty paid off, and it was a chartbuster. But he can't keep repeating himself again and again. I know there are a lot of Himmesh bashers out there. So I don't want this post to turn into lets hate Himmesh. He definitely has talent ; but he seriously needs to stop singing. I am sure the producers won't mind shelling out some extra bucks to get a proper playback singer. So I started listening to the track 5 minutes before I started writing this post. Now another 5 minutes later I am ready to turn it off.

Now music directors singing in their movies is nothing new. Everybody from A.R. Rahman to Anu Malik does it. Shankar Mahadeven is even good at it. But they do it rather to mix it up a litte bit. Anu Malik just does it for fun in totally whacked out numbers like "Ek Garam Chai ke pyali ho". A.R Rahman is a more serious singer. He has done varied numbers like the title song of Dil Se, Chale Chalo in Lagaan, and Yeh jo desh hai mera in Swades. He does not sound a clone of himself in every other song he croons.

Himmesh Reshmiya's current stratergy might pay off in the short run but if he wants to be taken seriously by his peers and the public he needs to diversify and not sing himself.