Coming soon, “Mammoth Book” anthologies of Crime comics, horror comics, and new manga.

I was reading the Kaiju Shakedown blog right now, Grady Hendrix’s neat blog on Asian movies ( which I found thanks to adgy‘s recommendation), and I found news about the US release of Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor.

The first Yoji Yamada movie I saw was Twilight Samurai, and it’s brilliant, kind of an antithesis to the swordplay-heavy, heroic-samurai flicks that one is normally familiar with. It’s more of a look at the Japanese society, which had its own caste system during the late Edo period, primarily divided into the high-born, arrogant Samurai class and the lower, poverty-ridden peasants . Tasogare Seibei, the “twilight samurai” in the film deals with his everyday life as a grain-store clerk in the employ of the clan-head, deflecting sarcasm from his fellow samurai because of his poverty and his lack of interest in socializing. The only link he has to his status is the katana he owns and the *knowledge* of the fact that he is a samurai. He has to bear the responsibility of rearing two children provide medicine for his senile mother, a herculean task considering his 50-koku salary. The re-appearance of his childhood friend Tomoe who’s been recently divorced from her abusive but rich husband foresees a change in his life, but Seibei’s sense of honour and responsibility is put to the test by the series of events that follow.

After finishing Twilight Samurai, I tried very hard to find out more of Yoji Yamada’s movies. Apparently Twlight Samurai is the first of a thematic trilogy dealing with Samurai life, the second being The Hidden Blade and the third Love and Honor. Saw the latter in my flight to San Francisco from Singapore. Haven’t found The Hidden Blade yet. According to the Kaiju Shakedown blog, Love and Honor is being released in only ONE THEATER in the US, the ImaginAsian in NY City. Sasi, I think you will miss it, but if you are still coming to India, you can borrow the DVD from me. Please, please watch it. It’s a fantastic piece of work and is more of a love story set in a samurai setting. And while you’re at it, add the Kaiju Shakedown blog to your feeds.

* * *

Another thing that came to mind today was a snippet of an interview I caught with Govinda, just before Partner was being released sometime in the middle of this year. We were playing the Maahi-Sona- game on TV – you switch channels and place bets on which channel you will come across a Yash Chopra-Karan Johan blockbuster song, eight times out of ten, it would turn out to be the Zoom channel that would be playing Where’s the Party tonight or Rock and Roll Soniye or That’s the way Maahi ve at any given point of time in the day. But this one time, there was an interview going on. Salman Khan was interviewing Govinda, both of them being co-stars in the then-to-be-released Partner, and there was much back-slapping and bonhomie being radiated from the screen. Apparently the two actors got along famously, and the interview was more of a conversation and an mutual ass-kissing experience at the same time.

And then it started getting interesting.

Salman Khan asked Govinda, “Ok, tell me, who’s your favourite Khan in the industry?” No prizes for guessing who he thought the answer would be.

Govinda: “My favourite Khan would have to be Yusuf Khan.”

“Yusuf Khan? You mean Dilip Kumar?”

“Yes, the greatest actor this industry has ever known. The best actor I’ve seen on screen.”

“Ok, who’s your second-most favourite Khan?”

“That would be Mehboob Khan, Mother India is  a landmark film in Indian history, and his contribution to films cannot be ignored by any director.”

“Right. Your third favourite Khan?”

“Kader Khan, without whom ninety percent of the films of the eighties wouldn’t have such magnificent dialogues. And I cannot even start counting how many actors owe their career to Kader Khan’s dialogues, including myself.”

At this point, I was feeling very warm and fuzzy. I could hug Govinda, regardless of whether he had deliberately made up the answers on the spot just to show his knowledge of film history or something. Hmmm, why did I remember this today, of all days? And why am I writing about it? Hmmm.


A Zinda Guwahatian Oldboy

“Radishes”, my mother exclaims, “You loved radishes, didn’t you? You there, how much are you selling those radishes for?”

“Maaaaa, no radishes. Whoever said I like them?”, I reply.

“Radishes 8 rupees a puwaa, baidew”, “Only 7 rupees a puwaa”. “The freshest ones right here, baidew”. A puwaa is 250 grams, and baidew is Axomiya for elder sister.

“Alright, squashes then. Squashes are good for health.” She persists.

I make my best windpipe-slit-by-samurai-sword-noise, a kind of wet gurgling that peeves her completely, as she looks at the radishes, and dismisses them, and prods at the cabbages. Cabbages are safe, she decides, because I do not react at all, and proceeds to buy two huge ones.

The shopkeepers look resentfully at the radish-hater and his mother as they exit from the maze of shops. I try my best not to look guilty.

* * *
I tell my parents I am buying a computer for them. My mother, who painstakingly writes out five copies of a question-paper for her tuition students every other day, could do with a printer – she even did an MS Office course thingie a couple of months back, just before my old computer decided to conk out for good. My father who warily circled the old computer until I showed him that it could play movies too, and how, was just getting used to it – I was kind of getting used myself to the phone calls asking me how to make the Windows Media Player fullscreen when a video was playing.

So this time, I tell them I am buying a new computer, and also point out that an internet connection would be good, now that BSNL has these broadband schemes. Somehow my father detects that note of hesitation when I talk about the internet. “What is it?”, he asks me, “A lot of bother? Forget it then.”

“Not really”, I tell him. “It’s just that if you aren’t careful enough, you might get viruses and I am a little worried about how you guys would handle it.”

“No, no, we will be careful. I will make sure nobody’s wearing shoes inside the computer room.”

I love these guys.


Possibly, very possibly, the most romantic movies I have seen, this one and its sequel.

Anil told me about it first, when I was in IIM Calcutta, sitting bleary-eyed in his room and burning truckloads of divX movies. “Very good movie”, he said, “Came out quite sometime back, not really a big hit or anything, but I liked it.” “What’s it about?”, I remember asking, and when he said it’s a romantic movie, I almost did not copy it to disc. But I did. And promptly forgot all about it until last November, when Prashant and I, walking down MG Road to the nearest Citibank ATM. ( Later, we found out that there was one right on Brigade road, and we needn’t have walked all the way, but I guess if we hadn’t, this conversation wouldn’t have occurred, and I wouldn’t have been writing this line.) We were talking movies, and from a long critique of Baise Moi, which appeared as a half-brained copy of Thelma and Louise, to talking about Susan Sarandon films and then to women-oriented ones, Uma Thurman and Kill Bill included, he suddenly asked me whether I had seen this movie. I had not, of course, and so for the next half an hour, I was given a from-the-heart lecture on it. Damn, all of a sudden I wished I had my divX movies here with me.

kvk mentioned it a couple of days later, and also mentioned that the sequel had just come out. What was this – the world seems to have seen this film before me, and everybody loved it! Something had to be done, and the next time I was in National Market, I asked them if this was around. I was shown a trashy Pierce Brosnan flick that had a similar name. Bleh. A couple of days later, Prashant found the sequel while rummaging around for Tarantino movies. “Give it a miss, it’s sure to be a camera-print version”, I suggested. He didn’t listen to me, thank the Lord.

So the other day, I was hanging around all alone in the house, a little too tired to watch a high-octane action movie, and a little too downbeat for a comedy. Let me watch something I generally wouldn’t watch, I thought. The only romantic movie around was the sequel, and ok, I watched it. Finished it. Watched the Making of-documentary ( it wasn’t a camera print, after all) Watched the film again, wishing all the while I was in Hyderabad.

I found the first movie at National Market a couple of days later, but it was part of a combination, and I didn’t really want to buy it that way. So I waited. Yesterday, Sasi went a little berserk at all the Bergman/Truffaut movies he saw there – and he ended up buying the combo-DVD as well. And so, as Mark Knopfler was playing at Palace Grounds, 2 kilometers away from where I live, I watched The Movie. Possibly, very possibly, the most romantic movies I have seen, this one and its sequel. Oh, did I just repeat myself?

Some of the conversations in the first movie sound contrived, I agree. It appears too easy, too spontaneous. But it’s beautiful. The second film is not perfect, but the way it takes the theme of urgency even further – it’s shot almost in real-time, and yes, the soundtrack *sigh*. The dialogues are a wee bit more realistic, maybe because the two lead stars chipped in with their own lines? Some of the lines make so much sense now after the first movie. The ending? There could have been no other.

Just for the record, I plan to watch both the movies again. Back to back. And with the right person.

The song I am listening to now…