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Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
9:25 pm - Who wants to be a Slumdog Millionaire?
Slumdog Millionaire
Indians, eh? It is the contradiction in us that makes us who we are. The diversity, the different viewpoints, and always, always the vociferous opinions that bring forth the most argumentative parts out in us. We love a good argument, let’s not mince that out and the bigger the success the bigger the argument about the validity of the success, the importance of restraint, and the calls to be contradictory just to be contradictory.

I’ve been amusingly reading a lot of articles and opinions on the Oscar sweep that Slumdog Millionaire affected by it’s 8 out of 9 wins (it was never 10, remember this children.) It has been entirely hilarious reading oppositions to its name, and the protests against it depicting Mumbai slums as Mumbai slums. Actors like Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan have been very PC about disliking the film, albeit with Aamir actually calling it over the top.

Let’s just say that I don’t think anyone making films for a living and a shame sheet of his own gets to diss another film for anything. Ever. Joel Schumacher does not get to call the Ed Norton Hulk film campy. Aamir needs to work off Mangal Pandey and Mann (especially Mann) and Mela before he gets to say any film made by anyone else was over the top. Just out of curiosity though, Aamir: in your opinion, was it more believable than Lagaan, or less? Bachchan’s comparisons to Delhi 6 are more earnest – he simply does not seem to get the difference between subtlety of meaning and nailing a conviction with a hammer.

Then there are the many, many different articles trying to make sense of what they see as unreasonable euphoria for the Slumdog Oscars. Tunku Varadarajan’s largely cacophonic take on it in the Times (pointed out to us by Sidin via twitter) is extremely stupid, of course. He asks the question a lot of people think is valid: how can the same people who thought the film is a blemish, a shame unto us, are now celebrating the wins by going over the top? Answer: they’re not. If you cannot think that a people can have different voices, and that they will get different weightage (there’s an Asian word for ya) in the media coverage simply because of the topicality, I’m sorry, but you are simply calling attention to you being dense or a compulsive contrarian or quite possibly, both.

I liked the film when I saw it, I like it still, and I like the fact that it won a prize. How hard is that to understand? Heath Ledger winning the Oscar made scores of comic book geeks very happy. Where is the problem in that? If Martin Scorsese has been neglected by the very same awards all his life and that makes me angry as a film buff, am I trying to assert ownership over the work of that master director? I’m not, all I’m saying is that I like his films, and it would make me happy if he did win every now and then. Indrajit Hazra (a man I much respect) on his blog does mention that



all credit should go to Boyle (not to England) and to the actors…as well as the fab let-nothing-ungushy-be-said-about-him A.R. Rahman and Resul Pookutty. It should not go to India and, er, ‘all of us’.




I agree, but important to consider here is the fact that all anyone seems to be doing is celebrating the win of one of our own in an international event. If eleven men can be carried on a Billion shoulders to their coronation as lords and Kings simply by playing a sport for an independent board of sport, surely we can fête a soft spoken sound editor and an awe-inspiring composer? It’s a call for sanity, and I am with him through and through, but I do think that toasting the success of someone amongst us is a quality that all Indians could have more of.

Of course people tend to be more pragmatic and mention that the film is an international film directed by a British (a lot of people think he’s a Scot, he’s not) and distributed by an American studio, so hey bud-dy, hey palll, chill out, won’tcha? Don’t just jump for joy, be cool. Be very, very cool.

I can see where they are coming from. Of course restraint is called for, and of course we need to realize that it was never our film. Of course, if there’s one thing the middle class has learnt over the many, many years of grooming to be more like the West, is to act cool, to abandon the wanton junglee-ness of the lesser peoples, to not dance on the streets, yaar.

As much as it pains me to say this, I tend to agree with something Vir Sanghvi said on his blog:



And yet, so much of Slumdog is Indian.




He comes at it from the point of view that much of the supporting cast, the original novel, the talented crew, including the oft forgotten co-director are all Indian. Sure, but so was more or less the case with Gandhi. Gandhi, as much as I like that film, DDL cameo and all, was not an Indian film. Attenborough came with a certain fascination with The Mahatma, and an amused enchantment with the passion that dictates us as a people. He managed to capture a lot of history in that film, and it was very strong thematically, but it always felt as a well educated guess of a foreigner trying to understand India.

I am not claiming Slumdog to be a thorough dissection of the Indian psyche, if there is such a collective thing, but it is unreservedly Indian. The film does not glorify our mysticism and our small triumphs, and neither does it try to show us a picture of horror which is the normal life of an impoverished child. It just shows it as it is, albeit through the impossibly stained glasses of the fatalist. And in that, it is an Indian film. We can go back and forth about the relative merit of the film as a best picture, but in this point I remain unswerving.

Boyle films it with a mix of his own kinetic, hyper detailed style and what we have come to accept as nouveau Bollywood, and uses his lens to direct our attention to what is not just an Indian story, but The India story. If you cannot see parallels of our nation in the story of Jamaal – a young impoverished, oft used, oft suffering person, growing up, learning new tricks of the trade, but with his mad optimism intact, and finally winning it all in a sweepstake with many, many stumbles, not because he could, but because it was his destiny – I urge you to watch it again. If you cannot see the Indian-ness of the story, the half-lingering, half reverential shots, the celebration of all our triumphs, the hard work to win small shit-stained ones, and the big ones we win by fighting for love, and indeed the whole film the way it is put together, you do a great disservice to a crew that worked hard to do so.

Of course, Danny Boyle is not one of us, and neither is Christian Colson, but for the few months they made this little gem of a film, they tried very hard to be. Don’t dust off your Bharat Ratnas just yet, but saying you are glad a good film, and an Indian film in all but name, won the best picture does not make you a less proud Indian, or a more over the top one. It’s another matter if you didn’t like it all that much, and that is a discussion for another day.

Slumdog Millionaire

No, fuck it. I am writing after many days, so yes, it is a discussion for right bloody now.

I love that film. Unabashedly. Not simply because it is an Indian film, but because it gets it more than a lot of films do. It is a multilayered masterclass in film making that you have to see to believe. No really see, with eyes wide open. The film asks you a question, asking you to participate in the rollercoaster quiz show right at the outset. Literally, the film flashes the question and four options right in your face. Slowly, methodically, it eliminates those answers in front of you, leaving you with the jackpot answer – it was his destiny.

Indians don’t love like most people think of love. Despite any façade a Metro boy will put up in front of you, when Indians love, they love like madmen, and without thought of what happens next. That the film gets that, and gets it not just in the main story, but in all of it is a feat. That it also gets the simple, ugly facet of Indian-ness that we are sometimes not euphoric over the success of another fellow is a testament to the honesty of the film. It is a fantasy, of course, and it could all be Jamaal’s fantasy, accentuated by the never more Bollywood moment when he thinks of taking his brother down a high-rise with him.

It is a unique physical experience, watching this film. It is staggering that despite the time Boyle spends explaining just how much it sucks to be a poor orphan from the slums, the celebrations are much more memorable than the defeats. It has a sentiment, without being sentimental. It’s not a docu-drama, it is a fairy tale, and like all fairy tales, the end explodes with uplift in tone that never leaves you for quite a while.

Sanghvi, in his article goes on to mention that:


Do we really need a Scottish director backed by American money to come to Bombay to make a film of a Vikas Swaroop bestseller starring Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan with songs by Gulzar and A R Rahman?
Obviously, we do. Otherwise it would have been Yash Chopra or somebody like him standing on that stage in the Kodak theatre waving that Oscar around.



First of all, Yash Chopra would never be able to do so, and the reason I can make that claim is the very reason some people have not liked this film. We are too used to being manipulated by our dream peddling cinema that will shy as much as it could from the cruder places in Mumbai. The minority voice of the Kashyaps and the Banerjees is being heard better these days, but not at equal volume with the cacophony of the factory produced fantasy mongering studio films. The reason something as regressive and dishonest as Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi was one of the most celebrated films last year, and a terribly wasteful, not to mention completely gimcrack film like Ghajini was considered a masterpiece is a symptom of the larger problem.

We are too used to the trappings of the bad kind of cinema that Bollywood, or any other cheaply named wood makes that we stepping out of the comfort zone is hard for us. Instead of thoroughly celebrating the triumphs that were Dev D or Oye Lucky, fans are left apologizing for them in a place where the worth of a film is till measured by the money it made. It’s not our fault either.

Bollywood is too exclusive a club. Not only are they completely resistant to the idea of anyone else other than them making films, they are completely resistant to change. Too many of the ‘trade pundit’ or ‘acting institutions’ have given interviews that smack of distaste at the new corporate film houses or the smaller, ‘multiplex’ films. Every step forward is coupled by a jog backwards. If they could, they would make the same film they know how to make again and again. Of course, in the times when ‘different’ is the new ‘safe’, they have made an art form of making an atavistic film with all the bells and whistles of a new wave film.

Of course Bollywood slams Slumdog and disavows it as a bastard child, a freak occurrence. Accepting it as a good film would mean they give their blessings to honest, technically accomplished, thematically rich film making. If they did that, how will they make one like that? Balderdash! That would mean the new kids will win, and we can’t have that, can we?

I am not claiming that just because you didn’t like a film I loved you are a brain dead Bolly-zombie. What I am getting at to is this: I liked the film, as I liked many more this year. I don’t denounce it or celebrate it just because it is an Indian film at heart. I am happy it won as much as I am happy Woody Allen’s fun film gave Cruz a statuette. I just don’t want you to get in my business of liking a film’s win with all your misguided cries of oh, it’s not ours, or oh it’s not special, or oh we suck. Sometimes good cinema is good cinema, regardless of the politics behind it.

I mean, look at Gandhi.

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Thursday, January 3rd, 2008
11:34 pm - How the year that good things happened happened
OR how my spaghetti got ravioli OR how 2007 was good for the gamer in me OR The best games of 2007 OR how I can’t ever think of a clever title and usually quote Dylan instead

A whole lot of people like to recap their year and tell everyone what they thought of it, and I guess I am that sort of person too, but these are not borrowed thoughts like most. Though talking about 2007 does seem kinda moldy and I even thought I almost found a reason to not write about this, but hey, we’ve got free crab cakes, so we’re good. (plus I’ve been nonexistent on LJ, so not like anybody’s readin)

Last year was, among other things, a year where things shook up like a very big earthquake. I moved cities again, after about eight years in New Delhi, the city of my heart. I traveled a lot, and I mean a LOT, as far as my track record goes (thirty one flights, four rented car journeys, two bus trips, and a tractor ride). I played a lot of great videogames, got two new consoles and a PC, and well, I um, well…

Let me tell you about gamers and the women who date them.

In my experience, the girlfriend of a regular gamer, or ‘gaming widow’ to use the technical scientific classification, passes her time in the life of said gamer in four distinct levels. There is no fifth level, because the fourth level is the unbeatable boss level. Level one brings with it feelings of deep and infatuating affection and she pictures the man as a cute boy-man, who likes playing Mario on a coin op. This is a good level, as it is characterized by the generally misinformed understanding that someone who plays a lot of videogames is also very technically intelligent, and may yet become a superwhiz IT consultant, and hey, all that passion means he is passionate. It is important that a level one girlfriend never actually see the man play his videogames, staring at the TV like a monkey with no other motor skills evident than the pressing of buttons, twirling of joysticks and stuffing of face with nachos, or hear the almost primal screams of his mates who spew advice while passing the nacho bucket around, thus shattering the illusion. In level one videogames==love. Level two, which comes about very soon to fairly early, depending on the season (Christmas deluge plays weird murder games in the relationship) is marked by resigned acceptance. Go on then, she thinks, play your stupid games. At least I know where you are at all times. At least you’re not eyeing my best friend, or shagging someone on the side. Level three, better known as the stage where the trouble actually starts is when she begins to compare herself to the hobby itself. The phrase ‘You and your stupid videogames’ will be used a multitude of times. Especially if Preeti and her idiot boyfriend and some friends want to do movies and lunch at Nirula’s with the both of you, and you have got an important TF2 tourney on that damned Singapore server. “You go and have fun, honey,” the gamer says trying to squirm out of the event, trying not to let on that he secretly hates Preeti and all her friends. “I’ll join you if I can.” Yeah, at seven. Level four is the advanced, cancerous version of stage three. The phrase repeated ever so often now is ‘You and your fucking videogames.’ When it’s time for another group lunch, the gamer’s girlfriend really hits it off with Preeti’s friend Rohan, who is a banking consultant with a cherry red Honda Civic who hates videogames, and she never returns your calls again.

Going back to the thought I didn’t complete, I finally figured out how to beat level four. Having struck out at all my relationships at Levels one, two, three and four in varying circumstances, I was determined to win this time. I decided I would cheat.

Turns out, the cheat code on level four is, “Will you marry me?” and it is not really one of those God-mode cheat codes, but kind of like that stupid small mushroom in Mario that turns you tiny, which whatever you say about it, only is good enough to make you excitable and jump really high, but does bugger all against Bowser, not to mention takes away whatever power up you were on at the time. Yep, 2007 was also the year when I beat Level four by getting married.

I know, I know. But at this time, it’s like telling a person that he can’t make a grilled tuna sandwich with a hosepipe, when he has invested not only in the pipe, but drilled a hole in an underground water reservoir, created a fence around the hole for leakages, laid out a picnic table with the fancy tablecloth and nice china and bought a big bottle of Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Chilly Sauce (It’s different). I would have probably made a more direct analogy and enlightened all of you on the inner arguments about marriage, but I DON’T HAVE PERMISSION.

Surprisingly, though, it has turned out to be very good for my gaming, because first of all, everyone in the whole world, including the wife, now understands and empathizes that I need a consolation prize. Games are my lollipop after the tetanus shot. Second of all, hey, you need someone to pummel at DoA at 3 in the morning. Am I right, or am I right? Plus, after I got the Wii, Nintendo saw fit to reward me with the single most effective advantage of being married – Super Mario Galaxy. While I am playing the game, I need someone to collect all the star bits for me, and the universe has literally conspired for me to make the most of my situation. Plus when you get married and someone (these two fine people) gifts you an X-Box 360, not to mention games to play it with and bean bags to play it on, you start to think maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Digressi-mon, I choose you!

(I really need to tell you about the great year in gaming I have had, especially with all the console love and a new PC, and I create segues like hosepipes create grilled tuna sandwiches.) Here, then, are the videogames that made the most impact in a mad mad year, and while I know your favorite is probably not here, remember that I may possibly hate you personally.

10. God Of War 2 (OR The most fun pressing buttons in the order someone tells you to)
God of War 2
It is surprising that I remembered this game at all, having played it in bouts and fits all through the year on my choking little PS2. But playing the middling to horrid Heavenly Sword made me realize how much I love the impeccable design decisions in this game. As much as I love David Jaffe, this sequel topped his creation many times over.
Why your game isn’t here: Because if you show me a game and claim it as a more polished example of a gameplay balance and carnage I will think you are wrong.

9. Eternal Sonata(Or Best game about hallucinations)
Eternal Sonata You are a character inside the dream of a sick and fevered Frederic Chopin, and you must battle monsters in turn based musical combat with musically named party members. Do you need another reason? It seems unlikely that Chopin dreamt of wide eyed Manga characters and turn based combat, yes. Still, you never know.
Why your game isn’t here: I haven’t played Mass Effect, and I think The Witcher had terrible voice acting. I think Persona 3 deserved to be on this list, and I think it still is. You JUST CAN”T SEE IT. Freaky.

8. Supreme Commander (OR Best game that made you feel like Mogambo)
Supreme Commander
World in Conflict has prettier explosions, and the battles are more intimate. But I can play Sup Com on dual monitors, keeping my eye on different parts of the epic battle at all times. That makes me feel all sorts of awesome, and dammit, games are supposed to do just that.
Why your game isn’t here: Muhuhahaha, watch as I obliterate you and build a frigate while keeping an eye on both things.

7. Team Fortress 2(OR The best game to wrest the crown from Counter Strike, never mind CoD)
The Orange Box - Team Fortress 2
It is the single most fun experience online I have had all year, despite the MMO trappings of CoD 4 or the trappings of the actual MMO expansion of the year, or even the fact that it ships with less maps than any other online shooter.
Why your game isn’t here: I hate Halo 3 multiplayer and the douchebaggery that it encourages in normal people on Live, I do.

6. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (OR The best case for scripted gameplay, sandboxes be damned)
Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare
I like its multiplayer almost as much as I like TF2, or maybe a little less, but it is the relentless single player campaign with its cinematic gameplay, orchestral score, and finally, AI smart enough to immerse you completely in the game make me love this game. I have played this twice in different difficulty settings, and I plan to replay certain missions. Pure fun out of a tap.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (OR The best game to buy if you travel a lot)
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Don’t be fooled by what I just said. Even if you sit rooted to your desk playing Phantom Hourglass, it is pound for pound one of the best adventure game this year, and another solid achievement on the DS. I am surprised at how much I love my little DS every year more and more due to the absolutely fantastic games that keep coming on it.
Why your game isn’t here: I absolutely loved Crush, loved it. I am the man who will defend Jeanne de’Arc and FF Tactics to death. But there is something about the mad load times and the eldritch murderous refresh rates on the PSP that make me not pick it up. Something clearly needs to be done here.

4. Bioshock (OR The best game about Ayn Rand, and I know Chris Kohler said it first)
Bioshock
As a game that can be classified as a first person shooter, the game only about treads similar grounds as System Shock 2, so that can’t ever be bad, but not terribly new. But it the compelling story that makes it a gem. More importantly, the back story is told through what comes as a slap on the face to the cut scenes of FF and the briefing sequences in the Medal of Honor series. It is told through the game. YOU piece together the narrative by looking at an exquisitely detailed world and make sense of the narrative ion a world gone awry. This is not a novel or a movie as some people like to think. Bioshock is pure game.
Why your game isn’t here: Crysis is gorgeous, and the trying to find ways to kill the next set of bad guys is intact from Far Cry, but it bores me no end. HL2 Ep2 is pretty good, I admit. But you’ll know in a bit. And oh, Halo 3? Well, the 10 minutes of fun is intact. Unfortunately, so are the uninspired levels.

3. Rock Band (OR The best way to make you feel like a rock star)
Rock Band
3 minutes into this awesome game, and I already had creative differences with the drummer and the soloist. No one paid attention to the bassist, because, he is the bassist, and I fucked their song up. Bring it on bitches. Pure genius then, that the default controllers are broken as well. You can SMASH THEM and play with the GH controllers.
Why your game isn’t here: Because I can’t play with you anymore man, you are stifling my creativity.

2. Super Mario Galaxy (OR The best science fiction game)
Super Mario Galaxy
If you need reasons to play Super Mario Galaxy, you are clearly a dead husk of a human being, and your decaying body needs no more nourishment. Go eat human brains, and don’t bother me. I’ve got a chainsaw tied to my arm.
Why your game isn’t here: Because if I had to remove this for Ratchet and Clank Tools of Destruction, it would make me evil. Oh, and the princess is another castle.

1. Portal (OR The best cake and the best lie and the best lie about the cake)
The Orange Box - Portal
Funniest game of the year, the best song of the year, the game with most character, and the most innovative gameplay mechanism. It took me about 4 hours to finish it, but is very quietly changed the way game design is looked at in that time. I doff my hat at the game everyone should play because your life is incomplete without it.
Why your game isn’t here: The cake is a lie.


I have played these and more this year, making 2007 an absolutely fantastic year for gaming. That I have now a wife who plays and loves these games as much as me makes it bloody brilliant. Since 2008 has no hope I hell of beating it, I proceeded straight to the getting drunk on the 1st. One thing that wasn’t brilliant in 2007 was however, the fact that I blogged (read mental masturbation) fairly less. Maybe this will be the same, but at least I have fucked your friends page/RSS feed/iPhone browser once this year. Let’s a go!
Year 2007 was also the year when The Sopranos ended. Not that I cared about the show one way or the other, but I hear the ending was so limp and vague, it left people talking for months. That is exactly how I am going to leave this post, so’s it leaves people talking. I like comments because it proves to the intarwubs that I have friends.

Boo.
(Thanks to Harry Thompson's views which colored mine completely, and on which the most amusing bits are completely based on.)

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Monday, August 13th, 2007
10:13 pm - Naah
Maggie woke up to see the lizard sitting comfortably over the now stationary fan. She hated lizards; this one particularly so because it was huge, scaly, and somehow reaffirmed the alien status of the place she lived in. It had a body like baby croc, she thought, and big beady eyes staring at her with lizardly lust. Sweating more than she had in her entire life, Maggie got up to draw the curtains back, but one glance outside changed her mind. The electricity kicked back in, the table fan whirred back to life, and the bastard lizard lazily moved down to the table, one eye still leching. She had tried telling the manager (Ha! Manager! Seedy-motherfucker-who-ran-this-joint, more like), but it just hid itself every time the slimy bastard came to the room. He was more interested in the underwear anyway, the fucker. Last night she had closed the hole in the wall with her bag, but it found a way out from somewhere else. Today morning she actually hit it with her shoes, but it got up again and licked her bag. She was never going to touch the bag again.
The phone rang again. She finally got up and put on a tee shirt. She knew the little hole in front of the phone was where the Ukrainian lesbian prostitute dancer from next door was standing, trying to get a peek. As she picked it up, the lizard moved away from the table, almost as if it knew who it was on the line.
“Uhrr… Hello?”
Maggie hated her own voice in the mornings.
There was no mistaking the smoked out voice from the other end.
Firangi bhenchod, it’s time.”
She hated it when he called her Firangi.

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Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
7:41 pm - All the Tired Horses

Thankee Sushubh

I've probably mentioned this before, but somehow the universe has been kind enough to let me own a Wii. It's a gorgeous machine and I am happy just to stand like a goofy idiot playing Golf (Golf! How I hate that sport outside of the electronic entertainment medium) all day. I do own games that let me be (among other things) a doctor (I know! Crazy!) and an Italian plumber.

What I haven't mentioned, like ever, is that it's Japanese. Now, there are times when you want to see an English menu, with the screen drawing pixels in the form you actually comprehend. But you know, geekery of geekeries, I actually enjoy swimming neck deep in the almost runic symbols that the Japanese language throws at me. As a result, you grow an appreciation of the various ways your brain makes sense of things. I absolutely marvel at my intuitiveness to just click the left squiggly to accept, and the right wiggly to cancel. It's resonant with human potential, I tell you.

As a result, I may have no idea what the Miis are usually up to or if they assemble when you click the whistle just because they are Japanese in origin, or if they love you or if they are even crazy or what. I do know that they respond to you, and mock you by being happy in a round white room, while you can't find the same hip deep in entertainment possibilities you invented for yourselves. We lack the Miiness and can't respond to such a scenario with an even keel. It disturbs me.

Of course, much like Pi or other sane individuals, I had the option to actually buy an English language console – the fact that it is Japanese doesn't mean that's the only flavour it understands – but that would contradict my zeal to do something ridiculous each and every day, without which I don't think I would be able to look at those fucking cartoons.

This was crazy uncle Sam, back to writing fucking cuckoo shit. Tell me something ridiculous you did today.

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Friday, June 29th, 2007
1:02 pm - C'mon all you...
I’m not going to build it up or dress it up nicely, this is international Motherfucker week. As simple as that. The only reason you need is that it’s fuckin sweet to say that all day long and go back to the simpler time when you had just discovered swear words. Even so, let me explain.
So the new Die Hard has released, and trusted sources tell me, that it’s great fun, and a nice in form sequel. But, and this is crucial, the iconic line that I have grown up repeating, the one that begins with “Yippee-ki-yay”, and ends with, yup, sahi jawab, “Motherfucker”, is only half there. And guess which half got misplaced by the PG13 ass kissing whoresons out there? Sahi Jawab, aap iss cheque ko choo sakte hain.

Why am I so worked up though? As some heathens (cough, beatzo, cough) would say, it’s just a movie, man. Well it is, like 300 is just a comic, or Godfather is just a book, or Never Mind The Bollocks is just an album. Yes, all of these are iconic, they were great fun then, and we have moved on to more, maybe better of the same now. They are merely products of the entertainment medium they chose to live in. Yeah, but they all KICK ASS. These are rites of passage rituals to mandom.

And this is the truth: it’s not just a movie. As a kid watching it in the eighties, it OPENED MY HORSES! (Yeah, inside joke, go here.)

Picture this: You are a European terrorist holding a building hostage, and you find yourself thinking, “Hey! Zis vas eazy. Zis building is as safe as mein mädchen’s lap for me. Vat problem can vun cop really bee?”, etc. Now this is when that very cop breaks through one of the many air vents or shafts any time, and fucks with your happiness real bad.

I’m talking of course, about Officer John McClane. You know, Policeguy, deadly aim, all round hard ass? Of course you do. Nothing defined the eighties better than the iconic eighties action heroes. John Rambo, T800, John Matrix, Robocop, John McClane, Riggs and Murtaugh, Kaalia, Arjun Malvankar, the whole bunch. What makes John McClane even more badass than all of the other people from the eighties is that he is not a trained killing machine. He’s just a chain smoking cop with receding hairline and handy around guns. T800, say, can kill twelve terrorists just by the by on his way to his main mission to kill his target. (And let’s face it, he does get his ass handed to him in all the films’ end). But when you are just a regular guy with a police issue beebee gun, taking out twelve terrorists in one night is hella hard ass. And he doesn’t take days or weeks in wiping the bad guys off, like the others. He does that before Christmas, and he started on Christmas Eve!

Not only does he polish the pesky Euro-terrorists off in increasingly cool fashions, he does that without any shoes. Factor in huge chunks of glass and debris around and that means when he’s not shooting bad guys, he taking chunks of glass the size of PSPs from his feet. That’s badass.

Seriously though, Die Hard was the first time I saw a pure action film that perfectly balanced a heist, comedy, character development, and a touch of the rare – the characters were right on the thin line between realistic and fantastically mythic. Watch it again and you’ll see that director John McTiernan paces the action and comedy between pure tense moments beautifully.
There were long beats where the hero just lay hiding and waiting and trying to improvise, something that was contrary to all way of making an action film. We had seen action heroes with vulnerabilities, but McClane with his jet lag and sleeplessness and feet full of fuckin glass was something so completely original that others had to ape it eventually.

The rest of the cast is simply fantastic, and McTiernan does a great job reining them all in. Riggs and Murtaugh were the ultimate buddy cops, but Reginald VelJohnson played his role with believability and true to life beats; I still think theirs was as good a hero-sidekick relationship as any. Alan Rickman’s grim presence was exploited by the actor to his fullest, and it remains his most menacing role, Snape or no Snape.

The cinematography and action choreography are beat perfect, and there is surprising amount of believability in the environment they create. The building and its infrastructure is created simply to offer action set pieces a place and a room, but they seem real and functional. The lag time between two terrorists dying is utilized not only by Willis to shine on a new coat of vulnerability, Jan De Bont and McTiernan use that time to establish a sense of geography to the Nakatomi building and establish the film firmly as something that has very few mistakes. (I’ve only ever see one, really)

Of course the casual way with which terrorism was observed in the eighties is not something that can find resonance in our time, but you don’t see me complaining about sexism when I watch Wayne westerns, do you?

There are iconic one-liners, and most don’t even belong to McClane, and the film improves because of the focus McTiernan had for the entire project. “Hey, we're flexible. Pearl Harbor didn't work out so we got you with tape decks.” Awesome.

It’s a film that not only spawned a whole lexicon, it is a film that became a staple diet film at my VHS player with friends. A friend once said that it’s our generation’s Sholay. I don’t quite agree with him, because our generation’s Sholay is still Sholay, as it should be for all generations (someone forward this to Ramu), but this one’s pretty up there as frequent watch films go. This is not a cinematic watershed moment, it’s just a film. It’s just a film that kicks ass.

This was not a love letter for an eighties action film. This was to tell you that you don’t rubbish international Motherfucker week. It’s a week, because from here till the end of seven days, you pick a day, any day, and use the word motherfucker in your language all day long. Pay respect to something that has been part of your childhood like Maggi, GoldSpot, Litchis from the tree, Double Decker buses, bicycles with U shaped handle bars.
Go my little devious ones, spread the word. Yippie ki yay…

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Thursday, June 7th, 2007
4:21 pm - Oh Noes, we're fscked!
So Wagner James Au writes a piece at Giga Om called Game Business and its Crisis of Attention, and derides the games industry for being short sighted. Go ahead give it a read, it will make you laugh.

Wagner Au has been a great, if occasionally panicky game journalist. He is correct in telling us that the Wii (which I just bought, glee!) has penetrated a market that many game developers did not think existed. But what he hasn’t taken into account is that the Wii’s success story was not incidental, but a planned, smart execution by Nintendo, ALSO a part of the games industry.

The story begins with the advent of the casual gaming market with a lot of women and older gen people taking interest in casual gaming websites, circa 2002. Nintendo saw that as an opportunity, and created their next handheld the Nintendo DS, a dual display touch screen little darling that took the button mashing away from the games and instead put in intuitive touch controls. Now a lot of developers jumped on to the bandwagon and made some A list titles for the DS. BUT the casual games juggernaut was largely because of first party Nintendo developed titles. Nintendo, a gaming company saw a market, and pushed for it with a strong game base for their console, making other developers take notice. Au does not even acknowledge the DS, and he is wrong in presupposing that the Wii brought about a brewing revolution. It didn’t. There was a huge casual games market, but before the DS, those people never thought of themselves as gamers. The DS changed that, not by being a great machine either, but by the first party titles that Nintendo pushed, and a smart decision to keep it inexpensive.

Even now, and this is interesting, it is the largest selling console in the world. Au mentions that the consoles have not been able to outsell the PS2. Well, the PS2 can’t outsell the DS either. And it’s just a little handheld, not even a TV console.

Nintendo then built on the market created by the DS and started development on the Wii, which again features intuitive controls, and despite mainstream shooter titles etc. at launch, a huge database of casual party games that the whole family can play. Nintendo’s decree was plain and simple: increase the market share. Again, great first party library, and the cheapest next-gen console in the market.

His allegation is that X360 and PS3 have been myopic decisions by MS and Sony. I agree, but only partially. The DS’s success took MS by surprise, but they knew the power of the casual gaming market, hence Live Arcade(met with humongous success). Hence Viva Piñata. Sony, too, understood that and while it has had a hiccup-y start with an overpriced console, they had a great GDC with the announcement of Sony Home (A Second Life like environment within the console, that is free to use, and as robust), and LittleBigPlanet, their lean towards the casual market.

Again, Au fails to recognize the fact that even now, the new gaming converts via the Wii or the DS, are increasingly taking interest in what other titles they can play. This can only mean good business for all of us. The market that has been single handedly created by Nintendo, will gradually, in smaller percentages, buy other games, other consoles, get into gaming proper. And whatever form the games industry takes, casual, hardcore, it still is the Games industry. It can change, and it already is changing, but it can’t sputter and die. Try buying an Wii in the US and tell me that games aren’t selling. There’s a 15 day minimum waiting period, and a markup of 100$ on the Wii on most stores in the US. Nintendo can’t manufacture those things as fast as they sell. If that’s not good tidings, what is? How can more people playing games be a bad thing?

Of course, we know that making a Halo 3 or Gears of War will cost 3-5 times more than a Wii sports. Which means more developers will lean towards easier to make and publish games, and the so called mainstream titles will be fewer as we go along. There are discussions to be had on the outsourcing business, and how that is helping these studios leverage their cost-benefit ratios, or the fact that already EA and Ubi have committed themselves to more Wii titles. And the 360 isn’t doing bad either – the games are doing well, Live Arcade is an unprecedented success, and their high profile mainstream titles sell like hot bloody cakes, maybe not as hot as Nintendo, but even by traditional standards, 360 titles are a success.

PS3, though, is in a sad position. Phil Harrison couldn’t hide faster. But that is not due to second life or grandma playing mahjong. There are a slew of problems – blu ray makes the games expensive, it also makes their console expensive, the long delays has meant bigger losses, first party development has been focusing on Home and sequels, so newer titles are harder to find.



Addendum: Already responses to his ill-written and statistic HIDING article is scathing:

Simon at GameSetWatch writes:
"And besides, which, with the Hollywood comparisons - hello, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Spider-Man, ka-ching? There's room in here for a few blockbusters too - alongside a welcome widening of the market and (hopefully!) bigger opportunities for the little guy."

Colin Campbell writes at Next-Gen:
"... [Au] argues that the game industry is in trouble because of the success of products like World of Warcraft, Wii and casual games. "

Such a poor short sighted article. I usually don't respond like this, but hey, someone actually emailed it to me citing it as relevant information. This kind of geekery usually finds place only at Ze Blog, but I just thought the length of the post warranted an LJ presence. :P Forgive.

Anyways, sorry for ranting, and I just wrote this as I went, so the data behind the argument is not here, though I assure you it IS out there. I…. I just can’t stand this sort of irresponsible journalism, I suppose.

Sorry for wasting your time, if I did.

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Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007
10:59 am - Starcraft 2 announced, bitches!
I command you to watch this:



"With StarCraft II, we’ll be able to do everything we wanted to do with the original StarCraft and more. We recognize that expectations are high following the long-running popularity of the original game, but we plan to meet those expectations and deliver an engaging, action-packed, competitive experience that StarCraft players and strategy gamers worldwide will enjoy." - said Blizzard president Mike Morhaime.

Hahahaha, bitches, yes. You are mine. My Zerg Rush begins. Can you hear that voice in your head? You know what it is saying? It says, "You need to build more Overlords".
starcraft2 starcraft2 zerg
Research Complete.

current mood: happy

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Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007
12:37 pm - I will be bahk
You know I always go away, and you always know I come back. Paap se dharti phati, adharm se aasman, atyachaar se kaapi insaniyat raaj kar rahe haiwann. Jink hogi post apoorv, jinka hoga lingo abhed, woh kehlayenge.... well, I don't know. But these are dark times, and I shall come down back upon your LJ friend's page and wreak my righteous vengeance.
"What?", you say?
Say what again. SAY WHAT AGAIN. I dare you, I double dare you, motherfucker. Say what one more goddamn time.
This has ben a speed post to tell you things are going to be shaken around here a lot. Stay tuned.

I will not be Lindsay Lohan. (Does he look like a bitch?)

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Wednesday, November 8th, 2006
1:16 am - The long of it
Or:How I Learned to Stop Worrying and blah blah blah

There are things, powerful things, that keep me from making regular posts on LJ or my blog, and amongst them are a strangely useless ergonomic keyboard, my propensity to make more spelling mistakes in a sentence than actual words, and the evillest invention of man yet, work. My theories on how the concept of doing not so fun things and continually proving your skills to gain another abstract concept: money, is directly linked to the invention of the nuclear bomb and Kurkure, to name but a few blights of the humankind, should be well known, but aren't. Thank your favourite stars.

People who have ever read anything I have written, when I actually used to, should have alarm bells ringing in their head right about now. Yes, I am doped up on enough coffee to take care of the Brazilian national deficit, and work ended unusually early today(by which I mean at 2200). Yes, this is going to be a long post without de eville eljaye cutte, and I am going to write till I get bored or fall asleep or both.

The Dark Night returns.

So let's talk about music, or more specifically, the sound of it. I have a very strange relationship with music; no one can say I am a music kind of person. I am probably one of the seven people on earth who doesn't list music as a hobby on their CV/orkut type places etc., and that is mostly because it's true. I don't own an iPod or similar, never had a portable mp3/audio cd player, and my hi-fi system is hooked to my computer to amplify, among other things, the Windows default welcome tune, and the CD tray on that thing has been barren for 5 solid years. My computer hard drive has about 3 gigs of songs tops, the rest backed up on DVDs/CDs that get used every once in a bloody long while, and I can't even list the songs on my HDD. I admittedly own a phone with iTunes, but the last time changed the playlist on that was when I bought it. I tried on more than you think you are for size, and the album still inhabits it.

So we've established my general apathy to music, yes? Now let's sample this: I can't imagine surviving without it either. There is a very simple thing that most people tend to ignore about all music: it's all sound. That, my thoroughly bewildered and not unfairly bored LJ friend, is what I have been(probably) leading up to. I am a big fan of sound. All of it. Most days, I am looking to listen to at least 3 good sounds from all the music that I sift through, and believe you me, I do sift through a lot via my office LAN and teh intarwub radios OMG.

I listen to a lot of music simply for the sound. There is something inherent about sound itself, that makes you feel something. A child scratching on a piece of slate emanates a sound that makes you cringe from within, yes? There are millions, nay billions of such sounds that can make you feel something without having to resort to prose or music videos. The correct sounds can make the same sentence seem funny and intensely rude. Sound has power, and it is music's DUTY to channel that power into something important, something with meaning.

We live in the age of confluence – I swear I saw a mobile phone concept which had a cigarette lighter and a Swiss army knife – and our art forms have blurred together to form newer children. Break down a music video, and that has a moving picture, sounds, colours, and even idolatry. The basics of art forms are quite simple however. The picture, painted or otherwise, has to tell a frame's worth of story, or abstract feelings onto imagery. It's business is imagery. I have long argued that Cinema's primary service is the art of creating a spectacle, to show motion in pictures. The written word (responsible ones, not this tripe) has power, and that is to be channelled to tell stories or evoke feelings that the spoken brother cannot. Music's primary business is sound. Maybe only for me, but there you have it.

There are at times a single note, half a guitar riff, a voice modulation in a phrase that are all it takes for me to listen to a song over and over again. Then there are songs that have subtext in the sound itself. Not the lyrics, or the imagery of the videos or the album cover, but the sounds themselves. That is a rare breed that makes hair on the back of hands stand. Lyrics are important in songs for most people, and probably why I listen to all that jazz. Sometimes, though, you have to go beyond what the song is trying to say and listen to what the music is whispering. Probably why I find myself increasingly getting hooked to things like live performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, or Yo Yo Ma concertos with Morricone, or original scores of recent films, simply because of the purity of sound, the disassociation that they covet with pre-conceived imagery(probably not in the case of film OSTs, but you'd be surprised at how much the shuffle button can help create a disconnect).

I find myself turning the radio on during my drive to work, trying to distil five minutes of good sounds from an hours worth of songs with a 70-20-10 ratio between Himesh Reshammiya-Bullshit-Songs. Suddenly the mood changes, does it not? A one sided argument about the sound of music suddenly threatens to turn low brow when I mention Hindi film music? You'd be surprised at the regular pace at which some notes can create vivid feelings amongst these. You'd be well advised to begin listening to one Rahman, Allah Rakha, maybe even without paying attention to the lyrics. There is a particular love ditty that he created that was very romantic; nice non-dil/pyaar/ishq type lyrics, but (to me) had a faint but unmistakable undercurrent of impending sorrow. You couldn't tell, really, if you paid attention to the words, or the imagery or the placing of the song in the film. But from the moment I heard that song I was gripped with fear, and I wanted to call my girlfriend to check if she was okay. Every damn time. Surprise of surprises, when I saw the film the song belonged to, the dude in the song dies right after. I was shocked. Here was someone who was creating songs for me, the guy with a sound fetish.

That and the realization that I just listen to anything these days, as long there are 5 notes worth of excellent, unique sounds, made me get up and make this post(that, and gallons of caffeine coursing through my veins). This is as much an admission of a hidden, suppressed personal peculiarity as much as it is a strong suggestion to stop paying attention to what is cool to listen to and what is not. I can't remember names of artists, bands, genres or albums. I can't recount my all time favourite top ten alternative or grunge bands. Simply because I don't care. At the risk of sounding musically illiterate, I unequivocally state that I don't care about the genre based segregation of music that music channels and music magazines push down your throat, nor do I care about the literally thousands of artists and millions of tracks that are required listening for any rock/jazz/concerto fan in any given year. If it sounds good, point me to it. But if you think it's important because it was a great commentary on the punk society of 1950s Lisbon, for chrissakes, keep away from me and go back to your music snobbery and iSocks and celebrity posters. I listen to ARR, Michael Bublé, Philip Glass, John Ottman, Pete Townshend, The NESkimos, and Crystal Method and tons of others ALL IN ONE DAY. And you know what, I hear better sounds in my music than you, Captain.

(This was probably in response to the most musically racist comic I read in recent times, and no I won't give you a link. In any case, blame the coffee)

I am returned. Pay homage to the usual places. In the face of Ellis abandoning you all, I shall be your Internet Love Swami on LJ. Tell me all your filthy secrets(or generally amusing foibles).

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Wednesday, October 11th, 2006
11:58 pm - Burning Bright

Today happens to be the birthday of a dear old friend of mine. I haven't talked to him in a bit now, but there was always something about him - calm, relaxed, funny, and so damn sure about himself most of the time - that makes one miss him, rather never not miss him, all the time.

Another thing that always stood out about him for some people was his misanthropy. Not very natural for someone who would make friends in an instant, you understand. He could walk up to anyone, anyone, and make good fast friends with him in 15 minutes. His was a very likeable personality too, and something about him made rank strangers trust him with their personal details. And yet, it would appear to most casual observers that people, in general, infuriated him sometimes. Even by his own admission, he had little patience with stupidity. This had nothing to do with you, I swear.

He just loved life. He had such an appetite for life and the living of it, that he would positively reek of it. He would talk to you, and see through you in 5 minutes. Your ambitions, your talents, your damn potential, really, were all laid bare and asking to be understood in front of him. And you disappointed him by never seeing those yourself. He had such high hopes for the potential people had in general and most he worked with, studied with, in specific, that he felt personally let down when people let the vagaries of life get to them and give up every thing that made them sparkle. He wanted everyone, including himself, to write, sing, dance, compose, draw, photograph, run, fight, and live live live so much that he took it personally if you ever gave up.

Give him a birthday gift this year. Do whatever gives you the most pleasure. Create something you can call your own. Give up being a corporate whore, and start being yourself. Follow that dream you never seem to have time for. Like they say, don't wait for the next raise for the fancy Reebok shoes. If you have to run, you damn well start running in your chappals. Go talk to the friend you always take for granted. Give my friend a birthday gift this year. Live.

He passed away August this year, about 2 months short of his 27th birthday. I have a feeling if that fairy tale about dead people becoming stars is true, he is right up there urging the other stars to burn brighter, c'mon guys. And he is frustrated by the ones who don't  at least try.

Happy Birthday Keshav, mate. I'm glad I could call you a friend for a few years. Many didn't even get that privilege.


Tuesday, June 13th, 2006
12:22 pm - Chahlie San!
Now, why didn't anyone think of this earlier? This guy goes ahead and draws the Peanuts gang all grown up and drawn in manga style.



There's more in the gallery. You wanna look through it, seriously.

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Friday, May 12th, 2006
5:56 pm - Flickr Friday
DSCN1587101

The word is rafting.

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Friday, February 10th, 2006
5:45 pm - Tinga Tinga Tinnnnggaaaa
Since I've been nudged (and I love that feature, I swear), I post. Problem: I have no idea as I am typing this out, what it will turn out to be about (was that bad grammar? I do hope it was, I like my friends served squirming these days).

So yeah, my mood is particularly evil these days. Not to mention hungry.

Despite the warnings of various well-meaning people, most of my days are spent sampling various kinds of culinary... er.. samplings. This is something I have brought back from my Jaipur visit a while back. Did I not tell you about it? Let's take a random digression:

I was in the pink city for about 2 days. It was my first visit to Rajasthan, don't you know? First thing that strikes you when you enter that place is how un-Rajasthan like it is. I mean, no sand dunes, lots of trees and water, and nary a camel in sight. But that's because the geography is really close to Delhi and Haryana. The dunes et al start from Udaipur etc., I'm told. (I also lie: the first thing that actually strikes you is Amber fort, all done up nicely.)

When you start noticing the buildings, you realize how most of them are made to resemble forts and such(some of them actually are forts, by the way). Not so un-Rajasthan like anymore, huh? As is the case with most places with history, it has lots of museums, old structures, heritage spots, and “white-friendly” places.

It's also full of hospitable waiters who will feed you food like there was no tomorrow. arunjeetsingh will testify to these two things: That place prides itself in its food, and they love their Sikh dudes. The last night I spent there was mostly spent being fed by the truckloads, and then trying feebly to convince myself that it was mostly low fat (it wasn't, not really.) Now I know why the churan (digestive chewies) in that place is really famous. There was this King (Sawai Madho Singh the First, I think) they had who was like 7 and a half feet tall with a 4 and a half feet chest. Dude weighed 250 odd Kg.
No wonder.

So that is what I have brought back from that city: a ravenous appetite. While there are friends of mine trying not to puke on the food they eat, here I am blessed by being smack bang in the middle of this humongous mothership of restaurants, stalls, kiosks and whatnots.

Out with friends on weekends, I dine on food -- very foody food, these days, for that's what I crave -- and on weekdays, I usually find myself waiting for the magical LED number thingamajig at a food court to display my number. I sit in front of a window, sometimes catching a glimpse of my reflection, sometimes talking to workmates, sometimes tracking pigeons with my eyes as they do that erratic flight thing hungry urban pigeons have devised, but always conscious of the ding that spells my food's arrival. I find something vaguely Zen like about my relationship with the LED thingamajig.

Sometimes I also go eat out on weeknights, with some Coraciiformes Alcedinidae to wash it down. Talk of football, women, politics, cricket, and women has been known to happen too. However, I am now going to make like Charlie Brown and hide under my blanket. My foodie days are now on hold because something has happened. Something that involves the bottom pinching of a dude (not me), by another dude (not me). This brings us to the end of this highly random post about random things, wherein I state with utmost certainty that my hungry hungry hippo days are on a state of hiatus until I can be sure that ass terrorism has been wiped clean from my city.

I wish I knew some Danish cartoonists.

(Sorry for wasting your friend page real estate.)

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Wednesday, January 18th, 2006
4:04 pm - The Gamer Returns(?)
Before the new year becomes old, and after you have tired of all the lists and roundups in the year, I bring you this post, warm toasty, and definitely smelly.

But first a little jolly good fellow about 2005. A lot of noteworthy things happened, but it will always be remembered as the year Sushubh bought me a PS2 slim, which, by the way is sexy as hell, and will kick the shit out of the flat bloated X-Box any day of the bloody year.

Sure, a lot of people talk about how it doesn't make sense anymore, as it does not have Dolby, it doesn't have the processing power of the Cube or the Box, it can't do 720p. These are all valid points, blown away by one huge fact: it has the highest ownership, broadest appeal and recognition, and the biggest game library. So you know what? Fuck you.

Every time you want to write it off, developers deliver a game that makes your jaw drop, and more often then not it's an exclusive. At five, the PS2 is old in console years, and yet it managed to have a year where it had one of the best games all across, bar none: Soul Calibur III, Gran Turismo 4, Shadow of the Colossus, God of War amongst others. There's still a lot of life left in my slim, and that's a fact. My PC, on the other hand, was woefully neglected by developers, only choosing to release a handful of good titles. Granted, most of them were excellent, but I still need more variety.

Being as I am on the other side, producing titles in a PC games development company, I profusely apologize, and demand the big ones do so too.

Apologies out of the way, I'd like to round off the discussion about the year of our lord two thousand and five with my ten favorite games:

10. Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
Sly 3 is full of interludes that connect emotionally, a water-tight script that keeps you wanting to see what happens next in the adventure, and features some of the most love-able and in-depth characters to have been created in videogames. It looks great, sounds great, is well written, funny and witty, and has kick ass level design and pacing.

9. Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich
There are very few games, especially on the PC, that manage to take great gameplay and merge it with exuberance and over the top fun, making them unapologetically fun. This game brings a huge grin to my face every single time. A great story and a wonderful cast of characters married with solid gameplay. This game will make every comic book lover happy.

8. Trauma Center: Under the Knife
This was the best utilization of the DS' touch screen I have seen all year, and a compelling point in the argument that games are not all violence and sex. I saved lives in this game, and the spiking difficulty levels actually provided a tense environment while doing so.

7. F.E.A.R.
Single player FPS wise, I have a strong feeling of deja vu this year. When the first Half-Life came out, every other shooter that came after it for some time was sub par. Half-Life 2 rewrote less rules than the first, but still raised the bar high enough once again, and every other shooter is again appearing a few cards short. F.E.A.R., though, even with it's ridiculous full name is something that will grab even the most jaded gamers. Genuine creepy moments with innovative action and really beautiful levels. Also, it's the engine I have worked with, so it seems even more of an in joke to me than ever.

6. Oddworld Stranger's Wrath
This is a funny, quirky western set in the Oddworld, and features a hard as nails bounty hunter and his gun that shoots live ammo. As in, ammo that is alive. It has Metroid Prime's expansive environments with an organic feel that is it's own. This is the most fun I've had with my X-Box all year.

5. Civilization IV
A game with this much depth, strategy, and replayability comes rarely. A sequel that improves on a highly successful franchise by removing the tedium and adding more depth and choices is rarer still. Civilization IV is something I've only had a taste of yet, and I am loving every single moment of it. I can't wait for arunjeet to get the complete ver.

4. Resident Evil 4
Awesome. Capcom has outdone itself this time. The environments are creepy, the bosses are awe-inspiring and it looks like million bucks. The combat is improved with user-friendly over-the-shoulder viewpoint that makes the tense firefights more in-your-face than ever. 20 hours of living, breathing nightmares. Forget survival horror - this is pure, uncompromising action. As someone at GamesRadar put it, “This is why you play videogames.” If only all videogames were this brilliant.

3. Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus isn't awesome because it's damn good looking and does things that haven't been seen before. It is is awesome because it join exceptional art design to a cunning focus on a “Boss” monster. Most games struggle to create innovative bosses as the climax of a game or level, but Colossus encourages awe struck exploration in silent, poignant moments, and makes the boss the puzzle, the level, and the climax. It does this 16 times while many can't even do it once properly, and that is why Colossus is not just a game, it's a serene experience.

2. God of War
Arrr! I am man! I make fire! This game applies gore to itself like no other, and the main character is as manly as it gets. Hell – the game is as manly as they get. This game is violent, beautiful, tortured, and epic. High octane machismo is fuels a testosterone induced ride that covers all action bases with so much style it makes my eyes bleed. This is terribly addictive, and I ride my chauvinistic gamer side with a roar.

1. Psychonauts
Call me obscure, or call everyone else a moron, but the boring EA sports franchises sell a hojillion copies and the best games are the ones no one buys or plays. It is your DUTY to defy this amentia and buy a copy of this game. This isn't just a funny platformer. This is a sophisticated work of pure wit and brilliance. It is full of character and depth. It is also a really really funny platformer. It is one of the best games of the year as it has such subtle nuances that make you talk about it long after you've played it. Knowing how things go, though, you will never get around to playing it. I hate you.

There it is, the games I played this year that really rocked my world. I would have loved to mention Burnout:Revenge, Guild Wars, Pro Evo Soccer 5, and Chaos Theory, and I guess I kind of just did, but these were great games that couldn't just break into my personal favorites being as I loved these ten more than anything else. Have a great year in gaming ahead.

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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006
12:07 am - Happy New Year
On behalf of the Grunt Organisation of Sulking Workers that Don't Like to Work, I'd like to highlight a new study done by the Truth and History Department of the Grunt Organisation of Sulking Workers that Don't Like to Work indicating that the British ended their colonization of India, granting us Independence at least twenty seven times in the 1947. Henceforth, the organisation demands days off for the twenty seven Independence Days we will be celebrating in 2006, starting with the one on January 9. An even more recent study by the militant branch of the Truth and History Department suggests that there were in fact more than one Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi born around the country, twelve of which were women. Accruing them from when we got Independence, we come to the conclusion that our employers owe paid leaves to our great-grandchildren, and we should start outsourcing all our work to Philippines or someplace because we do not need to work till 2106.

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2005
7:36 pm - There's a comic book out there for everyone and I want your help
I believe there is a comic book out there for everyone. There, I've said it.

Most people think that comic books equal superheroes. They couldn't be farther from the truth. Super heroes is a genre. Just like drama, action, horror. Comic books are a medium. A very under-appreciated medium at that. Every single genre from horror to romantic comedy, from espionage to science fiction, from drama to social commentary is being covered in the medium right now. The Graphic novel influx in India has just begun, and the quality of the literature being published in the genre, as a whole, is arguably never been better. What is a Graphic Novel? The wikipedia has some interesting information, or you could take one minute and read this far more entertaining definition by artbabe. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Back? Right, then. Like I said, there's a graphic novel/comic book out there for everyone right now, they just might not know it yet. I believe that is the case with videogames too, but the spread across all genres in videogames is not so varied or dense. Plus the fact that all of you, whoever is reading this, you read. Which automatically means if a graphic novel is from your favourite genre, or is suitably well written and presented, you are more than likely to get entertained by it.

Sample this: in any given month, the number one selling book sells at most 250,000 units. In it's opening weekend, something as universally panned as Catwoman sold 1,670,000 tickets. I think this is because most people are not aware that there exists material that would entertain them more than the latest syrup coated family wedding flick.

Though I am a misanthropist when I want to be, I refuse to believe people are so stupid that they will shun Sin City for Aashiqui Banaya Aapney. I don't believe that at least a third of the people who watch Law and Order wouldn't enjoy Gotham Central. I don't believe for one second that one Lord of The Rings fan out of ten wouldn't enjoy Conan. Likewise for George Romero fans and The Walking Dead. You can't tell me that at least 10 percent of Ludlum fans wouldn't enjoy Sleeper or Queen and Country. What about movies like Lost in Translation? Wouldn't one person out of a hundred who liked the movie enjoy something like Blankets?

Not to mention older fans. People who just stopped reading comics after the superhero glut. They might be persuaded to pick up Transmetropolitan, and see that spandex and tights are not the be all and end all of comics. Won't an old Superman fan love to see what they did in Red Son or Birthright? Or a wouldn't Spider-man fan like to see the new Ultimate Spider-man line, and see what they've done to their favorite character?

If they were aware of these books.

This is where it all boils down, the point of the whole thing. Comment to this post, and I will recommend a Graphic Novel for you. If you think I don't know you that well, please tell me three things from different genres, irrespective of media, that have recently caught your fancy, or that you like/love/enjoy a lot. If you don't know how to get your hands on it, I will tell you.
One of you, and I mean a sum total of one from here and my woefully neglected blog, gets to win a Graphic Novel I recommended to them, either digital or dead tree, depending on my poverty levels.

And the people who are even better read than I am (*cough* beatzo, gotjanx *cough*), can start (if they haven't already) talking to your friends. Ask your pal who never misses an episode of CSI if he has heard of Gotham Central. Tell your girlfriend about Sandman. Tell your office mate who loves noir about Sin City. Tell your sister brother about Bone. Tell anyone about Planetary. Help me out with this post, let people know.

There is a comic book out there for everyone, and I want to help anyone interested enough to get started. If you're still not sure about anything, email me at trceuvw02@sneakemail.com. I'll be more than happy.

Next, videogames. :P

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Monday, October 31st, 2005
11:46 am - 29/10?
I swear, if someone so much as registers Delhi Hurts or some such pussy thing as a community or website, I am going to hurt that person.

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Wednesday, October 5th, 2005
1:02 pm - Se7en
Tagged by sampada

Seven things I want to do before I die

o Make a Ramayana movie(s)
o Climb a mountain
o Meet Shigeru Miyamoto
o Fly a Helicopter
o Make a video game that makes people cry
o Use Dynamite to blow something - anything - up
o Write a book/comic/screenplay called Spectacular Naked Panda Rain

Seven things I can do

o Convert Beer to Piss in 10 minutes flat
o Make people laugh
o Write
o Get dumped by women in winters
o Slap the life clean out of stupid people
o Ideate
o Do memes on livejournal

Seven things I say the most


o Fuckin A'
o Fucking 'ell, man!
o Let's get pissed!
o I have respect for beer
o I hate you
o Die, bastard, die.
o Spectacular Naked Panda Rain

Seven things I can't do

o Eat tomatoes
o Smell, as in I can't smell anything
o Call people a jackass, when donkey-raping-shit-eater will do
o Tolerate Lebanese food
o Resist a joke
o Drink coffee made by one Devi Singh, office boy
o Remember important stuff

Seven things that attract me to the opposite sex

o You wouldn't believe the trouble I've been in for a pretty face
o Smartness
o Passion for anything
o Intelligence(very, very different from #2)
o Love for video games
o Enthusiasm for trying anything new
o A sense of adventure

Seven celebrity crushes

o Rita Hayworth
o Jessica Alba
o Melissa Theuriau
o Ziyi Zhang
o Sushmita Sen
o Krista Allen (I know, I know, but crushes can develop in unusual places at unusual times)
o Heather Kelley

Memes may start anywhere, but they end right here.

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Tuesday, September 20th, 2005
5:56 pm - Today on google talk
Sushubh: opera goes free ;)
firefox can kiss my ass.
samrat: yay!
Sushubh: :D
how u doing
samrat: firefox can kiss my ass too!
i'm good bro, hows joo?
Sushubh: its now going to kiss a lot of asses :D
i am fine
samrat: i'm so posting this coversation on my blog * evil grin *
Sushubh: heh :)

Make Firefox and IE kiss more asses here

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Monday, June 27th, 2005
1:09 am - Serioussam Begins
Every time someone disses a movie I like, I try to defend it, but mostly give up. It's a testament to my slacker virtues that movies like Ocean's Twelve(beatzo hates it, and with good reason), The Mummy (everyone loves to hate it), and Crouching Tiger(well this one actually is kinda overrated, but you get the picture) go undefended.
I try to abstain from actually starting flame wars on what are just 2 hours of pulp entertainment. Plus everyone deserves their own opinions. Therein, of course, lies the dilemma. You can come up to me and say, hey Sam, I am of the opinion that duck billed platypuses pee from their mouth, are devil's rejected children, and the eggs they lay are actually made of solid gold.
Sure you have that opinion, but that doesn't mean you're not wrong. Anyone can tell you they hate Pulp Fiction cause, hey, that's their opinion. But you know, you KNOW, that they're wrong.


So yeah, let's talk about the new Bat movie.


*evil grin*


I've always thought that remaining absolutely, steadfastly, honest to a source material is not necessary for a movie adapting a book or a comic. I understand that there are a lot of decisions that need to be made to adapt a work of literature into cinematic form, and some changes may have to be made. I can live with that. It all depends on how successful you are in pulling it off. I have never cried over the exclusion of Tom Bombadil or the inclusion of organic web shooters, nor do I ever intend to.

If you want to look at the most honest adaptation of a comic book superhero, Daredevil's director's cut is the closest, and we all know how well it did. Begins comes close as hell. So close it is to some aspects of Year One that I was surprised not to find a special thanks to Frank Miller somewhere in the credits.

Of course, there is no “definitive Batman”. In his long, long, time in the club of most recognized superheroes the world over, he has gone through so many re-imaginings, creative visions, makeovers and whatnot that he may mean a whole lot of things to a whole lot of people. This movie does not attempt to give you a definitive Batman, but it does borrow a lot from some specific comic book issues. If those issues constitute a definitive Batman for you, you are going to come back pretty happy. If your idea is maybe a bit different, say the Adam West series, you might want to sleep on your decision to go watch it.

The last few years have seen superheroes being taken seriously, especially the movies they star in. They might have met with varying degrees of financial and/or critical success, but all of them have tried to take themselves as serious movies, not frivolous, psychedelic, camp movies (Bat 3 and 4, I point my fingers at you). Movies like Spider-man and Hulk have delved deeper into the psyche of the men behind the mask (or as the case may be, big green body). Begins takes this further.

Batman, along with Superman, has the best known origin stories of all the superheroes in the world. Why then, the need to retell it? Maybe Nolan wanted to take the franchise in a direction where he only could do so by starting at the beginning. I was a bit skeptical about it, but it blew me away. That is the best stuff in the movie.

Batman Begins is divided sharply in half is a serious drama, the story of a young man who leaves his home and fortunes to find himself and his place in the world. He is taken under the wing of a mysterious man called Ducard who provides him with a father figure to look up to. Ducard becomes his anchor in a world he is trying to understand, and Bruce flourishes under his training. Under Nolan's skill, this complex and dark story acquires a whole new resonance. It becomes fresh.

The second half of the movie deals with Wayne returning home after finding out that the League of Shadows wants nothing less than the destruction of Gotham. Bruce starts collecting his gadgets and items, slowly reaching a defined figure that will become a symbol to save his city, a symbol that he will operate under – the symbol of a Bat. Christopher Nolan understands the tumult inside Bruce Wayne, and all of it is subtext. When the subtext becomes the theme, he starts losing the thread.

Nolan understands Bruce as a man on a quest, and he has some fantastic actors at his disposal to make that work. The film starts as a film about people, the decisions they make, and the effects those decision have. As it moves into the second half, Batman becomes someone who reacts only. It becomes about the big action pieces and car chases. It may be because of a fantastic first half that we want more grit and drama, but the second half does feel a bit out of place with the first half.

The second half, and especially the third act puts Batman directly in the seat of an outsider. Things keep on happening, and he reacts to them, punches a few people, blows holes in walls, and..whatever, I don't care. It may be my idea of a definitive Batman speaking, but I think the detective deserves a better treatment than to play second fiddle to Lucius Fox's problem solving skills.

Don't get me wrong, though, there is something very very right about the movie. The actors. Christian Bale plays Bruce so well, that he ends up being the most fully drawn out Bruce Wayne in cinema. His Batman is a little rough, however. He can't decide on a pitch of voice, and the mask makes him look fat in the face. The movie, is bay and large about Bruce Wayne, the title notwithstanding, and Bale nails that.

Michael Caine is fantastic as Alfred. Alfred has always been the heart of Batman, the soul behind the machine, and Caine gets that. He plays his role magnificently, and keeps it understated enough so as not to appear a Father Figure to Bruce.

Gary Oldman has a thankless job, that of depicting a pretty straight character, with not much to do in the first movie of what is quite possibly the second beginning of a franchise. So, it's almost heartening to see him play Jim Gordon as a weary yet good policeman in a city corrupt and festering with crime.

Liam Neeson is Ducard, Bruce Wayne's mentor. The role is quite simple, and he's done that already in Star Wars, but Neeson keeps his character grounded. The character is very underplayed, and the chemistry with Bale hits the bulls eye.

Tom Wilkinson is Carmine Falcone, played with aplomb, and a little twinkle in his eye – I loved him. Cillian Murphy can't control his accent in the movie, and his Crane comes across as a creepy doctor, with a nothing villain in a mask as his alter ego. I don't wanna talk about Katie Holmes.

The again, maybe I do. Comparisons of this movie with the first Spider-man is inevitable, however futile it may be. One thing they both have in common is badly realized leading ladies with facial deformities. (the droopy eyelid for Dunst and the retarded lopsided grin for Holmes) While someone may say that Holmes is worse that Dunst, I have to point out that Dunst is Mary Jane, while Holmes is another addition in a long list of unnecessary bat-girlfriends. They have to get the former right, no matter what, and I will not except a whiny, weird chick in substitute. I don't care for Katie's character. At all.

The third act of the movie is something that I have very harsh words for. Explosions and blasts are used as closure, and things just keep on spiraling out of control for the director. It turns it's back to the excellent(and may I also add relatively CGI less) character drama that preceded it. The finale tries to make up for it to quite an extent, and as always, Oldman is dependable.

Never pre-judge a movie – the golden rule that every serious movie fan should follow. I always try to steer clear of the influence being exerted by all the hype and posters and trailers. I like to walk in, and let the first ten-twenty minutes of the movie grab me. Which they did, in this case. This is probably why I found the third act disappointing. It has no relationship to the first and the second acts of the movie.

The finale however, is something that is just sprung on you. The cheers in the auditorium drowned my emphatic screams of, “Year One, Year One”. Yeah, it's that cool. All in all, a great movie that is sorely let down by it's loose third act, but a good movie nevertheless.

Hell, but that is just my opinion. :P

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