Barfi!

Posted on September 17, 2012

Barfi!(with an exclamation mark) is a terrifically uncomplicated movie about a protagonist with a physical disability who was born in Darjeeling and was originally named after a radio Murphy but since he can’t say his name, he makes a shrill noise that sounds like Barfi! and that’s where the movie gets its title and Barfi gets his name from.

The story also moves back and forth – between 1972, 1978 and 2012.

Barfi

(there are lessons for me in this poster)

– Credits. UTV(probably)

Barfi is deaf and mute and like any other deaf and mute character in Bollywood, falls in love with a girl. This Darjeeling-based girl, who is a bengali(which explains her Bambi-sized eyes) cares for Barfi and shares bicycle seats and horse-saddles with him. She also dons a white wig sometime during the movie and is previously engaged. She is the rich girl for whom Barfi, the poor guy falls and ultimately she chooses money over Barfi. There is also a scene in the rain where Barfi realizes that he is not good enough to marry the girl he likes and this scene must move you to tears.

There is also heartbreak, a kiss and an outburst(albeit a silent one).

Priyanka Chopra plays Jhilmil who plays Barfi’s autistic-childhood-friend in a role that is as good as her role in Saat Khoon Maaf and better than her roles in What’s Your Rashee. Jhilmil belongs to an affluent family who don’t care for her sensitive needs. Meanwhile Barfi’s father has kidney failure. Since he has no monies, he plans to kidnap Jhilmil and blackmail her parents for money. Here Jhimil and Barfi realize that they are made for each other although they are not made for each other. Meanwhile, nearly after 6 years of marriage(don’t know if she had a kid/kids), Shruti realizes that she still has feelings for Barfi.

There are also some clever moments in the movie where the hands painting a painting turn out to belong to someone totally unexpected(like WHOA) and there is a #samething that happens when a hand tugs a shirt(again like WHOA).

Apart from Barfi!, other curiously named things in the movie are a police station named Sleep and a shelter called Smile.

Ranbir Kapoor does a charlie-chaplin-or-Mr-Bean-orRaj-kapoor-or-Adam-Sandler. He:
- Walks into walls
- Juggles bananas
- Does the chicken dance
- Drives a trolley on a railway track
- Has trouble with cops
- Has a romance with Jhilmil as well which is not very convincing

Barfi like Bawarchi and Taare Zameen Par is about the following:
- Life is about finding happiness in small things
- Films about people with disabilities need not be dull

Barfi is a:
- old-fashioned
- brilliant
- slow
- entertaining
- very funny at times
- heartbreaking
movie.

As the promos indicate, the movie has very few dialogues. The music by Pritam so far hasn’t been linked to any Korean movie but people are busy probing the deep recesses of the interwebz to find out a source.

————————————————————————–

I’ll probably write about Barfi again when I actually see the movie. I had 5 tickets for Barfi! this weekend but realized at 12:15 that the show is at 12:30 and not 13:30. I have 2 more tickets for Wednesday. This post is derived from other reviews – Mihir’s Not-Review, Mr.Sen’s and Someone’s. This post’s purpose is to serve as a painful memory of this occasion when I read a movie’s review before watching the movie,  something I’ve promised myself never to do again.

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Tantanoo goes house-hunting in Chennai

Posted on September 12, 2012

The last few weeks have been, to say the least, abysmal. I survived a train accident. I lost my Lava phone and two sim cards. My bank balance and Vatican City’s population are #samething now. I hardly read any book and am ridiculously behind on my reading challenge. My to-do list is longer than all the dossiers we’ve sent to Pakistan combined.

In other words, I’ve been knee-deep in shit.

And then, we got an eviction notice.

image

I returned from work one night to find a piece of paper that said that we are supposed to leave our house and look for a new accommodation. The only thing that notice was missing was an ‘Or Else’ at the end. We had 15 days to find a new place. We now have a month’s time to find a new place(after bargaining with the bastards) but this house hunt is proving to be an Abhimanyu-leaving-Chakravyuh-level difficult task.

I’ve lived in this house for over an year and a half now and even though we pay enough rent to buy a little oil well in the Middle East, it is what I’ve call Home. Not anymore.

So began the house-hunting process which I shall document here.

Like any self-respecting software engineer, the first thing I tried was Sulekha.com. The first time I went there, it took me to the US edition. Thanks to it, I now have conclusive proof that Bangalore is actually a foreign country.

image

(America can’t blame Bangalore for outsourcing anymore)

 

Even when I went to the Indian edition of Sulekha, it refused to accept that I am in Chennai.

image

(ARE YOU IN BANGLORE? NO? WHY AREN’T YOU IN BANGALORE? WHAAAI?)

 

After much convincing, Sulekha finally decided to let me search for advertisements in Chennai. We were basically looking for a flat in any area that’s either near Tidel Park(my office) or near the DLF IT Park(room-mate’s office). That’s almost a third of Chennai, I think. And boy did we get some awesome advertisements.

“Wooden Wardrobes are in both the bedrooms. Parking available in the compound. The wonderful owner stays in Santhome.”

“Furnished individual house with covered car park, separate three phase electricity, copious soft water for rent”

and then there were the occasional ads for Lady bachelors that kept us amused. Anyway, we got a few numbers and rang them. Sample one of the responses:

Me: Hello

Him: HELLO

Me: Sir, I noticed your ad on Sulekha.com for a 2BHK house.

Him: YES. IT IS A 2BHK HOUSE WITH 24 HOUR RUNNING WATER AND IS IN A VERY GOOD LOCALITY..

Me: that’s ok sir but..

Him: AND IT HAS A COVERED CAR PARKING AND..

Me: OK sir, but…

Him: IT IS WELL CONNECTED TO THE REST OF THE CITY YOU KNOW, BUS STAND AND ALL IS THERE.

Me: OK SIR BUT WILL YOU RENT IT OUT TO BACHELORS?????

Him: Oh bachelorsaa? Sorry, we don’t entertain bachelors.

*disconnects the call*

or this:

Room-mate: Hello, ma’am, I called regarding the 1BHK house in Ramapuram, I saw the ad on Sulekha.com

Her: Okay, you want for a family?

Room-mate: No ma’am, we are bachelors.

Her: Oh, we don’t want to give a house to bachelors, are you from North India?

Room-mate: Yes ma’am, I am from Bhopal, thanks for.. (he’s about to disconnect the call)

Her: You see, if we keep north indian chaps we need to go to the police station and give information

Her: and it is a lot of trouble.. so you see, we don’t like to give our house to bachelors

Room-mate: Okay ma’am (about to disconnect again)

Her: So don’t mind, ok? If you are family, let me know, we’ll consider.

<disconnect>

 

So if you are a broke North-Indian bachelor in Chennai, God help you in your quest to find a decent house. If you are a non-vegetarian, then add another ‘Fuck you’ to your quest, BAD BAD NON-VEGETARIAN, NO HOUSE FOR YOU.

and then there was an ad that came with strict piracy laws:

 

image

 

After a few more fully ‘furniched’ houses, our mail boxes looked like this:

 

image

 

Then we turned to newspapers, with almost similar results. One uncle showed us a 19th century flat that had a split a/c but windows that won’t shut. There was one guy who wanted three years rent in advance. We also paid the Chennai Craigslist a visit – http://chennai.craigslist.co.in/ where we found a guy who wanted to have sex on a train and offered a train ticket to any girl who was interested and a couple looking for an intellect threesome partner.

We are also in touch with brokers who take a month’s rent in advance. It is like a 50% sale, you want to look for a house with cheaper rent so you don’t have to pay the broker more. That is also why they call them Brokers, once you deal with them, you’ll be broke.

This one broker took us to a shady 1 bedroom terrace-based apartment in a shady building in Guindy which belonged to a politician. The room had an a/c, shady lighting and a mirrored wall next to a double bed. I bet it features in a few MMSes.

To cut a sad story short, we haven’t found a home yet and are still looking for a decent place to live.

If you have a place in Chennai where two bachelors from North India who are not criminals and can behave themselves on weekdays can live, please drop in a word. (I’d really love a house with a balcony from where I could see this bumbling city and curse all those Sulekha ad wallahs into oblivion).

(To be continued)

P.S.:

Some handy tips if you are house-hunting in Chennai:

  • CCP: It stands for Covered Car Parking and is something that you won’t be using but will be charged for anyway.
  • 1RK: 1 Room Kitchen.
  • If you are looking for a place near the Ramapuram area, be prepared for a lot of false alarms. 90% advertisements for the Ramapuram area are actually for areas apart from Ramapuram like Nesapakkam, Mowglivakkam(that’s what it sounded like on the calls) and many such nested pakkams and vakkams.
  • Check what kind of two-wheeler your broker has. I had to make rounds of Adyar on a Luna.
  • If you are looking at ads from Bharatrentals or Clickrentals, be prepared to buy a time-machine cause people stopped using them last year.
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Aftermath

Posted on July 23, 2012

Twelve years ago, in 2000, my hometown witnessed one of the most horrifying attacks it had ever seen. You can read about the Arti Shrivastav acid attack here, a case that shook an entire city. Because incidents like these always shake cities and sensibilities. For a while. A few years later, one of my cousins told me about the pepper spray she carries with her and how she’s had guys follow her in car and how she’s had some very narrow escapes. Then there was that night I spent on the Blank Noise website trying to understand how rating women(something that me and most of my friends – male or otherwise – had/have occasionally indulged in)  classifies as eve-teasing(about the same time I learned not to use the C-word while talking about people from the North-east).

And then, there was the Guwahati incident.

This is one of those posts which can be regarded as an aftermath of that incident. I’ve read a lot of them lately. There’s Localteaparty on teaching your son some lessons. There’s daddy_san with a flowchart. There’s Lavanyan’s two cents(which has a link to a DIY tutorial on making a pepper spray). Calamur draws a parallel with Draupadi in her column. There’s subfusced on violence against women. There’s Sandygrains on her experience (with a video on self-defense). And then there’s UnnamedEntity’s post(of a series) and Krtgrphr’s on male sexuality(in the Indian context) and Natasha Badhwar’s moving post on the same issue.

I’ve never witnessed any such incident in real life but I did see a few of them on Youtube(there was one in Mumbai where this guy was beaten up and his girl molested). The Guwahati incident was the first, in-your-face account of mob brutality that I had seen. But more than that video, I found Natasha’s account(link above) disturbing. Disturbing because of the sheer helplessness one experiences in that moment. Probably the same one a ragging victim experiences. Just that there’s a lot more to lose in case of the former.[1]

All this in a country that has a twisted sense of morality and an even more twisted interpretation of its own culture and history. A country whose police force is as sensitive as a rusted knob  on an 80s radio. Where the moral police is swifter than the real one and at times you can’t really tell the difference between the two. And then there’s the extremely efficient judicial system that forgets to measure up the injustice freely being delivered, while it takes its sweet little time to decide and deliver a  verdict(if at all it feels like delivering one). Then there’s the censor board that has been showing rape scenes in graphic detail in a pre-Mahesh-bhatt era, while innocent lovers had to hide behind flowers and trees. That’s been telling the audience that you need a Screaming Sunny Deol to get justice in this country. Then there’s an overzealous media and politics and people like me who have never really cared to vote or to change things.

So there are a lot of vicious circles and they overlap like a fucked up venn diagram. And there’s no point in endlessly ranting about it. And no way to fix this machine without bringing it all down and putting it together again(something I’m hoping 2012 would do, unless the Mayans were mistaken and we’ll still have this shit forever).

However, Natasha’s experience and the other blog posts had me thinking. Thinking of how technology can help where other things refuse to work.

A few days ago I read about the 1is2Many initiative. As a part of the 1is2Many initiative, the department of health and human services organized an app challenge that “encourages the development of applications that provide college students and young adults with the tools to help prevent dating violence and sexual assault.” 32 apps were submitted in this challenge(you can read about them here) and two apps won the challenge. You can read about OnWatch and Circle of 6. There are more apps listed later in this post.

I was also thinking of other ways in which we can approach this problem:

#1 Mimicking Animal Defense Mechanisms?

Lavanya, in her post(link above), mentions how women can start fighting molestation attempts by not being silent. But that’s not easy, at least not always. Between fight and flight, the flight is often the easier option and safer too perhaps. We’ve been conditioned to be silent and not ‘make a scene’ and breaking that mold isn’t easy. And things could always get worse. But what if this act of defense wasn’t reactive and proactive?

I am thinking of a phone that shrieks on behalf of the victim. There’s a T-Mobile phone that does that. What if there was an app that a girl could activate/use to create a scream that could disorient her attackers and attract attention at the same time? In case of drunken assaults, such an act could surely startle the attackers and give the victim a window of opportunity. I do have my doubts as to the efficiency of this method but I’d like to see someone try. Instead of a scream, an app may use crowd voices/alerts/police signals or a number of other sounds and see if any of them are effective. If a phone’s speaker isn’t powerful enough, speakers/devices that could be attached to bags, kept in pockets – basically something that someone’s able to carry around without attracting any eyeballs – could be designed. Who knows?

(Check out the YWCA app – http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/ywca-safety-siren/id372269044?mt=8 – it also works by simply shaking the iPod)

I’m just thinking aloud here(which I’ll probably do a lot in this post) but there could also be a way of using light as a distraction. An app or a device that can create a blinding flash of light? The only con of this method is that it may probably disorient the victim as well.

and then there’s the skunk.

The skunk has a crazy defense mechanism where it uses a scent gland to spray a chemical with “a highly offensive smell that can be described as a combination of the odors of rotten eggs, garlic, and burnt rubber. The odor of the fluid is strong enough to ward off bears and other potential attackers and can be difficult to remove from clothing. Muscles located next to the scent glands allow them to spray with a high degree of accuracy, as far as 3 metres (10 ft). The smell aside, the spray can cause irritation and even temporary blindness and is sufficiently powerful to be detected by a human nose up to a mile downwind.” [2]

Though the human olfactory system isn’t as sensitive as other animals, if there were a way to use a similar mechanism to disperse such a spray in case of a molestation/rape attempt, it’d certainly disorient the attackers. I am not sure but I feel that an obnoxious smell emanating from the victim(and something that can infect the attacker’s clothing) would definitely put them off.

Another way of achieving this may include a tagging chemical that leaves an permanent(long enough not to be temporary) imprint on attackers. If your son or husband comes home with that print on his t-shirt, there is a 50% chance that he tried molesting someone earlier that day. (Again a completely ridiculous thought but who knows)

As ridiculous as this may have sounded, there are people asking the same questions and products that are being considered by the department of defense somewhere, based on similar ideas.

Say a range of clothing armed with such chemicals, which if ripped, lets loose these chemicals. A locket or a ring with a capsule which can be crushed to release it.

Whatever works.

#2 Stun-suits, anyone?

I checked out this article on Stun-gun on HowStuffWorks and somehow, I feel, that can be formed/fitted into a dress/accessory(say buttons on shirt) which can be activated in case the victim senses danger. Or something that makes the victim’s dress statically charged so that any molester touching her gets a funny sensation(or a not-so-funny one). I am not sure how feasible, safe or even legal this is but worth imagining, no?

 

#3 Applications that help? (most of this already exists)

Read about Circle of 6 and OnWatch – http://www.tuaw.com/2011/12/16/brooklyn-filmmaker-working-on-app-to-help-prevent-sexual-assault/

There’s an app to share your story on the Hollaback blog – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hollaback/id379866261?mt=8

In Egypt, use HarassMap to report via. SMS.

Believe it or not, there’s actually a Cracked.com article on the topic – http://www.cracked.com/article_19051_6-new-anti-pervert-technologies-we-really-shouldnt-need.html

There’s an app for finding sex offenders in your area(US based only) – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.life360.android.safetymapc&hl=en

There’s an Indian app as well – http://www.fightbackmobile.com/welcome

The YWCA Safety Siren app – http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/ywca-safety-siren/id372269044?mt=8

There’s this article on Good.is that’s worth a read too(with an idea very similar to @daddy_san’s post) – http://www.good.is/post/three-apps-that-might-actually-prevent-sexual-assault/

We can probably borrow from these apps or build one that suits/adapts to the Indian context and borrows data from national databases(I have no clue what I’m talking about).

What I’ve also noticed from the Guwahati incident is that nothing can fuck up molesters more than people identifying them and screwing their lives. Which sounds brutal but is probably just the right amount of punishment. In that case, ideas on devices that can capture their images or record their conversations could help. In case of molestation by a group of attackers, identification becomes a concern. But that’s a lot of grey territory with privacy variables and stuff like that(till we get surveillance cameras and traffic cameras in India).

or how about using real-time updates(something like harassmap above), gathered in an anonymous format(no point asking me how, I don’t know. yet.) to map ongoing incidents of harassment/molestation on a map and alerting local residents/police stations/patrols/others? This will also help in identifying high-risk areas(I think such maps already exist for India, not sure).

 

#4 Elements in town planning/design?

What if our streets were smart enough to fight molestation? (and I am not just talking about surveillance cameras). So here’s the deal. Suppose on every street light, we attach a device(let’s call it The Box) that detects a certain frequency and when a victim sends out a distress signal(from any device, let’s say an imaginary one), The Box sounds an alarm that lets the neighbourhood know something’s wrong. The Box also sends this info to the police department and alerts a passing patrol to revisit that area.

1comp

Let’s extend this a bit too far and imagine in case a victim’s abducted and she activates this device. Say she dials a number(say 999 – this approach eliminates the need of a smartphone) and the service provider geolocates the device, sends signals to the nearest Box and alerts it. That way, in case of a victim who’s location is changing, the service provide keeps sending out an alert to The Box every 3 seconds, so that every time the location changes, a new box is alerted and thus the route of this abduction can also be deduced.

2comp

 

Extend this further and let’s say we program this box in a manner that it can only be overridden manually(that too by someone from the neighbourhood/police/something). And that it is not shutdown in say, 10 seconds, it alerts the next nearest Box and so on. This way, even if the crime happens in a remote/lonely neighbourhood, the alert reaches people who can help. Breadcrumbs, anyone? Imagine placing such devices in high-risk areas. Near pubs or discotheques or brothels or railway stations?

I’ve run out of ideas and words so I’ll stop here. Some(rather most) of this may sound ridiculous, creepy even. But I’d say they are ideas and questions worth pondering and make for worthier summer projects than that ‘library management system’. If you have similar ideas or have heard of other applications, leave me a comment. I’ll update this post with your recommendations.

If you think any of the above mumbo-jumbo makes sense and you can translate it into a device/application/prototype/something, please go ahead and do it. If you need my help/suggestion/anything else, leave a comment or get in touch using the Contact form(or drop a mail on shantanu dot adhicary/gmail).

 

For more horrors and such, you can try reading the Tehelka series of articles – Anatomy of Rape and The rapes will go on. There’s also this article which is in two minds about the use of technology as well(can be used to balance perspective, just in case) – http://lindaraftree.com/2012/01/23/can-mobile-phone-apps-prevent-violence-against-women/.

 

or you can choose to do nothing, which is perfectly fine by me. I’ve been doing that for the past 20+ years as well.

 

[1] – Personal opinion. I am aware of the horrors of ragging, thank you.

[2] – from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skunk

[3] – I’ll keep adding to this post as and when ideas/comments arrive. If you want to be updated, everytime I edit this post, drop me an email and I’ll keep you posted.

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Tantanoo’s language lessons: #319

Posted on June 15, 2012

Today’s lesson is an introduction to couple words. Couple words are two words that indicate the same thing. Their origin can be traced back to the popular dialogue in the 80s – ‘Aur Kaam Kaaj Kaisa Chal Raha Hai?’

Couple words act as great conversation fillers and are beautifully cringeworthy.

Examples:

Football Shootball Haye Rabba

Shaadi Vaadi

Paise Shaise

and the epic combo, Dil Vil Pyar Vyar.

However, one needs to be really careful while using them in a conversation. You see, I was talking to this lady today and after the usual ‘aakhir uski life meri life se boring kaise’ bits, we reached a point in conversation where you had to use a conversation filler like ‘Aur batao’. I decided to go with a couple-word.

So I asked her: “Aur saving-shaving ho rahi hai aaj kal?”

I think I’ll never find out the answer to that question.

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Tatkal, Rihanna and other irrelevant things

Posted on June 14, 2012

Well, this blog and its author have been missing in action lately. The author has also been missing action but that’s for another day. The fact is that the author has been really busy doing important things like running late for office, booking tatkal tickets by the dozen and deleting messages from HDFC Bank offering a personal loan thrice every hour on every phone in the author’s house. The author has also been sleeping like Sleeping Beauty on Benadryl.

The last post on this blog was on the second day of April, a day before the author crossed an important milestone in his life. He breached the Brahmacharya barrier. But right after that, the author was caught in a space-time-dilation-thingy that has slowed the author down to Keanu Reeves level. The author now spends his time watching Junior Masterchef and Castle reruns and eating shrikhand from a can. He took a reading challenge earlier this year that is becoming more challenging with each passing moment.

As a consequence of his inaction, this blog’s viewership has plunged more than the rupee or Rihanna’s neckline. The ICL has more viewers than this blog. Even those looking for Mamta Kulkarni’s body parts have deserted it.

The author realizes that drastic measures need to be taken to fix these issues.

Lara Dutta may be replaced with someone else(who knows).

More blog posts must survive the drafts folder.

Moar naked pikchurs.

MOAR KATS.

But before that, MASTERCHEF 4 BAYBEH!

*sigh*

(P.S.: Tantanoo.com is now available again at work. Apparently, Websense has had a change of heart and has realized that this isn’t an erotic stories blog. The author’s next mission is to get this blog blocked under ‘Tasteless’
)

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