Whoa! Now where do I get tickets from?

On top of my boithday wishlist is a ticket to the Iron Maiden concert in Bangalore. So, if you know where I can get tickets from, please please please do let me know. Hmm…last went to B’lore nine years ago, and this is as good a reason as any.

An aside, wtf is it with Eddie and Cricket? Who’s designed this stupid poster?

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The last fortnight…

The Bombay trip was hectic, though I did manage to get around four hours on Sunday to spend with family. Rest were spent either running around, updating on events from a cyber cafe, or attending events. Didn’t get much sleep either, and nor did I get time to meet friends. I still have a backlog of things to do, and don’t think I’m going to get time off for a while…

My favourite parts of the whole event route (IAMAI Digital Summit, Mobile Monday Delhi, 3GSM India, Mobile Monday Mumbai and ContentSutra Meetup Mumbai, all packed into five days) were the Q&A at Momo Delhi, the entire Momo Mumbai and the ContentSutra Meetup at the Hard Rock Cafe. Mahesh Murthy and Netra of Pinstorm were very helpful with venue suggestions.

There’s a reason why I found the Momo events more useful – it was informal, the audience was a part of the discussion, and real issues were discussed, no holds barred. I think I’d like to be involved in facilitating more of these free-wheeling discussions in the future – they help create awareness of possible solutions, and then the pros and cons of these solutions are analysed. As an outside observer, they offer more insight than an event. I’ll update with links to the momo posts tomorrow.

So far:

3GSM India

Day 1
Low ARPUs, Low Tariffs, Increase Teledensity And Pay Heavily For Spectrum
Buying The Value Chain, Repurposing And Chasing The Current Opportunity
Mobile TV Pricing Models, Usability
Monetizing Music For Class Tier-Two Towns
CRBT Friendly Music; Dual Delivery; Searching And Impulse Purchases
Casual Games, Payment Models, Billing Leakages And Embedded Games
Day 2
Off Portal; Marketing VAS; Operator Responds
Mobile Communities, Moderation And Monetization
Search – Branded Or Unbranded; GPRS, SMS And Voice
Numbers Vs Branding; Ideation Vacuum; Marketer Education

IAMAI Digital Summit

Day 1: Internet
Community Sites = Nightclubs? Credible? Education Napster
Uniform Code Of Conduct For E-Commerce, Exemption Handling;Contentivity
2007 Is the Year When Retailers Will Go Online
Advertorials Online; Search Marketing; Cutting Through The Clutter
Interconnection, Provocation, Bandwidth And Ecommerce Certification
Gaming And Collaboration, Web 3.0 And All About Having Fun
Day 2: Mobile
Mobile Marketing Challenges And Opportunities
Cross Media Promotions; Rural VAS Adoption; The Rural Consumer
Exclusives For Mobisodes; Info Critical For You; Pull Portals
Rs.4 Crores A Day; 2500 Merchants; SMS Vs GPRS

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One Theatre Ticket To Give Away

1900hrs: JANA NATYA MANCH’s Shambukvadh (Hindi). For details, go here.

I bought a day pass for Saturday (tomorrow) at the Prithvi Theatre Fest, and hence got three tickets for the price of two. Instead of going for the last play, I’m attending the Saturday leg of the Jazz Utsav. In case anyone wants a free ticket, get in touch at +91-98103-10053. Preferably, mail at nix DOT subs AT gmail DOT com SMS since I will be at the Fest from 11am onwards. Wouldn’t want the ticket to go waste.

crossposted at DoingDelhi

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At Home with Zero (Sept 16 2006)

“Sharp! Sharp! Sharp!” was what Isheeta’s reminder for the “At Home with Zero” gig at the Garden of 5 senses said. So Adi and I rushed, and the gig started late. Now Zero’s a band that’s famous for not just their music. There’s also Warren’s guitaring that was perhaps amongst the few things noteworthy, apart from the Freak Kitchen performance at GIR earlier this year. The other thing is that they really have a lot of fun on stage, something that also spills over to the other band drummer Sid is in – Helga’s Fun Castle.

While walking to the gig, we overheard one chap suggest that the gig could be washed out. The other patted his pocket and said “Toh kya hua? Idhar seh bhi pi lenge, aur udhar se bhi.” (We’ll drink from here (booze flask in pocket), and there (sky))

The At-Home series has historically attracted a sane crowd, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. People tend to sit their asses down on the grass, and allow the band to play. A polite round of clapping follows after every song. Not. The. Kind. Of. Thing. Zero. Were. Expecting. From. Delhi.

Hence, repeated requests asking for people to get up, stand up, and come closer to the stage followed. Most were fun, and they cracked a lot of jokes. Quite a bit of mimicry, and strange accents. If you’ve heard “Thank You Come Again” by Helga’s Fun Castle, you know what I mean. Great fun, almost as much fun as the music.

The gig was fun. No Warren, I suppose he’s left the band. The new guy was good at times, slightly off tune on other occasions. Zero ended strongly, but three songs before that had all been botched up and were off tune. One was new. My grouse – they’re only carrying copies of Procrastrination, which I already have. No Hook.

Some photos, courtesy Adi:




Adi clicked more photos. The slideshow- here.

Another band that I’ve wanted to hear, TAAQ, (songs from their album Plan B available here) played at IIT Delhi Blitzkrieg. Couldn’t go because it’s for students only. It seems that the Stephens gig has been cancelled, but I wouldn’t have been able to go there anyway, even if it is next door. Would probably have sat in my garden, sipped tea and heard TAAQ.

Really hate this – I’m willing to pay for the gig, and they keep it free and students-only.

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Mayhem at TC

Naah, not what you’re thinking – Sunday’s gig at TC (Update: TC is Turquoise Cottage at Adchini…sorry Reeta :)) wasn’t called “Mayhem”. It just turned out to be the craziest f’in gig I’ve ever been to. I know, I know – I’d said that earlier about the Numero Uno Rock Out last year, but this just beat everything before it. The neckache from headbanging still persists, somewhat aggravated by yesterdays sneezefest…but, man – what a gig.

I reached TC around 9:10pm, and wasn’t let in while Levikitus was playing because – TC was full. And there were around 15 people waiting outside, and that grew to around 30 by half past nine. KK, at the door, thankfully let me and Shyam in. There was hardly any room for maneuvering inside, and we made our way close to a corner, beers in hand. Bhayanak Maut took stage, and at TC…at tiny little TC, packed to capacity, moshing began. Now, it’s a completely different scene at Hamsadwani in Pragati Maidan, where there’s enough space. In TC, something’s going to give. The speakers next to which Shyam and I were standing were the first to go. Then the speakers at the opposite end. A fight broke out later in the mosh, and was ended by the bouncers. After a couple of songs, the moshing resumed, prompted by Bhayanak Maut. I’ve moshed before, but this time, I chose to stand by the side. Given the number of people there, there was hardly any place to stand. Here’s a video, courtesy Shyam (clearer picture of moshing midway through the clip)

I’ll put up pics once they’re put up at RSJ.

Bhayanak Maut, as always, were tight – great bass, and occasionally some deep sounding lead (strange). I don’t care much for the growling (no singing), but it’s fun when heard live. The rhythm is just too powerful and bass gets you headbanging. Unfortunately, with my limited knowledge of death metal and related genres, I can’t tell you which songs were played.

The chap taking care of the speakers was a hilarious sideshow, as he struggled to keep four speakers piled on top of each other, together. The wires got pulled out, and then he struggled to get them in. He actually dozed off in the middle of a Bhayanak Maut song. Here’s a clip of him sitting on top of one set of speakers and holding on to another, during a Them Clones song.

Them Clones were on next, and I have to compliment Gucci for a stellar job on the bass, as well as Dev on drums. Prithwish seemed to lose his voice towards the end. They began with Zephyretta, and played some from their original set, and a few new songs too. Damn it, I don’t have those with me, and TC are taking too long to release their album. They played some RATM, as usual. The gig was sponsored by Yamaha – they had some bikes on display, and a projector that displayed an advert on a screen.

More gigs this month, including a big one at the end of the month at Hamsadwani that is free. Details here. I’m going for Zero this Saturday, so if you want to come along for a much much milder experience, let me know. I have one Zero album – Procrastination. Plan to buy Hook, which I’ve heard is great.

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Skinny Alley at The Garden of Five Senses

First gig in…three months, I guess. Last that I remember was the last day of GIR, waaay back in Feb. I’ve missed quite a few good gigs since then cause, well, didn’t feel like going alone, and the usual suspects no longer want to go for gigs. Went alone for the Skinny Alley gig to The Garden of Five Senses, though.

Perhaps an indication that I overdid the gigs last year is I didn’t think yesterday’s gig at was that great. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I really enjoyed an entire gig. Yesterday, I felt that Jayashree’s voice was a little off- the pitch was little high; Jefferey Menzes and Gyan were in fine form, and Amit Datta was great, as usual. In fact, in the middle Amit even donned a cowboy hat and played a nice tune on the acoustic. Fortunately (or unfortunately), he didn’t sing. 😀

Prospect (and Isheeta) had done a professional job, as always – open air, adequate seating, lovely location, and enough signboards to guide us to the gig. There was even someone stationed at the gate to tell us how to get to the gig. If I have any grouse – it is that The Garden of Five Senses is almost 30km from my house. The gig went off without a hitch. This was a part of the At Home series, which features Indian rock groups playing only/mostly original sets. I’d missed TAAQ at India Habitat Center a few months ago.

Unfortunately, though Skinny Alley have great skill their original songs aren’t as good as the covers they usually do. And I’m not just saying this because I’m familiar with the covers, and not with their originals. They mostly do Steely Dan covers, and I’ve not heard Steely Dan. Also, I’ve heard the Skinny Alley originals thrice now, and I think their songwriting isn’t up to the mark. I mean – I really don’t want to hear a song called “Child Bride”, or “Little Sister” about sibling rivalry. I can almost hear Jayashree sing ‘Child Bride’. Cringe. Their lyrics just don’t fit their sound. At the end, they played ‘Green Earring’ by Steely Dan, which rounded off an enjoyable evening…I may criticise their music, but I did like it. 🙂

Thankfully, this time they’d brought CD’s, and I picked up one. Heard it last night, and found it a little disappointing because the songs on the disk are too soft for my liking – soft particularly on the drums and lead guitars. Live, the drums and the lead guitar is much louder and audible, and Amit Datta gets more airtime with his solos. Jayashree sounds better on CD, though.

Link from the blogger formerly known as codey: K was also there and had a better time than I did.

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Osian’s Cinefan Film Fest: The Scream of the Ants by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

The basic message of Makhmalbaf‘s latest, The Scream of the Ants (Shaere Zobale-Ha) is as follows:

The Scream of the Ants starts promisingly enough: An Iranian couple wait, with the wife sitting on a chair and the husband loitering about, in the middle of a railway track. The wife has a glove stuck to her face (attached to her sunglasses, we later find out), to keep the sun out: a quirky beginning. They stop a train, get on, and sitting by the window, argue about God and religion. A seemingly lecherous journalist butts in and starts a conversation with the wife about tourists in India. All tourists who come to India are stupid, he says prudently.

The journalist informs the couple that the train is headed straight for a baba, a holy man, who can supposedly stop the train with his eyes. Sure enough, the journalist and the couple hang out of the train, and spot a half naked sadhu with his hands raised, The train slows to a halt near him, and to celebrate the baba’s miracle, a few thousand beggars converge on the train to accept alms from the passengers.


His secret: none. One day, disillusioned, he had squatted on the track to commit suicide, and the driver stopped the train himself. The beggars caught on, and proclaimed it a miracle to collect alms. Since then, the poor old man is a hostage to the beggars’ greed, and the drivers don’t take a risk and stop the train. The couple then try to rescue him, but are powerless against the crowd. A remarkable beginning. This is going to be fun, I thought. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The scene shifts to Rajasthan where the wife and husband quarrel over religious beliefs, and the want of a child. He doesn’t want to bring a child into this miserable world, he says, and walks out,straight into the arms of a prostitute with a call center accent.

What follows then should go down in history as the weirdest scene ever (you’re free so disagree and tell me about weirder scenes) where our man talks weird religious mumbo jumbo to the prostitute, makes her his table (no, seriously). He drinks alcohol from a glass kept on her naked back, and then talks about the cow god. Now drunk or mentally retarded (or both, for his sake), he proceeds to pour alcohol on a statue of the cow god and drinks it. Don’t believe me? See this:

Click to enlarge

No prizes for guessing who this fascination with cows reminded me of?

We suddenly switch to a scene in the desert. The wife is in search of the Perfect Man, and it seems, everyone has heard of him.

Wife: Do you know where the Perfect Man lives?
Random Person: He lives there. (points)

Wife: Do you know where the Perfect Man lives?
He-Man: By the power of GraySkull. There (points)

(Note:I made the last one up, but I wouldn’t have put it beyond Makhmalbaf to add that scene to this movie. Probably cut it in the editing)

The taxi driver is willing to forgo a fare tells them that they ought to walk to him. How often have you seen the perfect man? they ask the Cow Man, a buddhist by the looks of it, as he takes them to the Perfect Man. Very few times, he tells them. When they reach the cottage, it seems that The Cow Man = The Perfect Man, and he only has seen the perfect man very few times because he doesn’t keep a mirror. Right. Mr. Perfect Man, as the wife calls him, writes something on a piece of paper and tells the wife to heat it in the holy city, over fire, after three days.

In the Holy City, they meet the Shit Man, who thinks everything is shit. We’re subjected to images of burning bodies, and decayed corpses flowing in the Ganga, as people take dips to purify themselves. There’s lots of philosophical, psychotic gyan, and the Shit man keeps saying that everything is shit, with a German accent. The two thirds of the film (post the baba stopping the train) is full of religious mumbo jumbo about life, sex, birth, rebirth and possibly the result of reading too many Osho magzines. Some old woman says that she wants freedom from the birth-rebirth cycle, and the audience goes – What shit? in a German accent. Everything is shit anyway.

Somewhere, the wife remembers that she’s got a letter to read, and with some more philosophical religious couplet, the movie ends.

Is it just a co-incidence that the direct tranlsation of the movie’s title in arabic is ‘Poet of the waste’?

*

P.s.:
One of many reasons for the Congress government to protest the screening of this movie: There’s talk about Gandhi’s sex life, that he had sex with his wife all night long the day his father died. How anti-national. One of many reasons for the BJP to protest the screening of this movie: The cow god and the alcohol. What an insult to our Hindu Gods! Secondly, it’s Nandhi the bull, and not a ‘cow god’. Malkmalbaf got his facts wrong.

P.s.2:
During the scene with the nude prostitute as a table, several cops came into the theatre. Others noisily went to call the rest, repeatedly disturbing those who sat close to the exits. No probs. After all, cops also have a right to watch sex scenes while on duty.

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Osian’s Cinefan Film Fest: Cilmates (Lklimler) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

[Note: spoilers, but this storyline has been used ten trillion, sixty seven thousand times, approximately]

As much as I’d like to be critical of Climates’ predictable storyline, and seemingly restrained performances, I really liked it. At the Cinefan film fest, most of the movies that I enjoyed featured characters who were mature and somewhat subdued: a marked change from the movies I end up watching in theaters in India (most of my college friends watch movies that I call ‘dhinchak’). So, I suppose I ended up cutting Climates some slack because I was comparing it with the regular fare.

We begin at a beach resort, where Isa (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) breaks up with Bahar, his wife/lover of several years. His reasons for breaking up may be summarised as follows: he’s bored. Bahar breaks down, sobs, and is quiet as Isa drives on a scooter across the hills, with the sun setting on their relationship. Suddenly, Bahar, from behind, closes Isa’s eyes, and they fall down. When he leaves her in the bus, he says that he still wants to be friends. She declines, and tells him not to contact her.

They part, and Isa soon finds himself with nothing to do in the evening, as opposed to his friend, who teaches at a college with him. Isa ‘accidentally’ runs into a friend and his girlfriend. Later, he lands up at the girlfriends house, and we’re subjected to a longish rough sex scene that seems to be there only for titillation.

From Serap, later, Isa learns of Bahar’s whereabouts, and follows her to a town that is snowed in, where she’s with a team to shoot a TV serial. There he tries to make up with her, but given the cold parting, she obviously declines. The movie meanders along, and while Isa tries to placate her, she refuses to comply. Eventually they meet one last time, and then part ways. The movie ends abruptly, and there isn’t much to take from this film, apart from Isa’s character being defined by the way he behaves – a bored university professor without scruples, who breaks up with is girlfriend so that he can liven up his life, which he tries to do by sleeping with his ex-mistress and then trying to woo his girlfriend back. All this without the song and dance. On the plus side, there are no wasteful dialogues, and long moments of silence and render a serious feel to the movie.

I also wonder how Nuri Bilge Ceylan would have been able to assess his own performance, since he was both starring in the movie, and directing it. A wholly unremarkable movie with a weak storyline, but with some fairly composed, confident and realistic acting. It’s a story that you would have come aross a thousand of times, just that it doesn’t end happily.

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Osian’s Cinefan Film Fest: When Fish Fall in Love by Ali Raffi


A sleepy, seaside Iranian town. A successful restaurant being run by four feisty, independent women. Everything is running smoothly until one womans lover gets arrested for anti-national activities, and anothers returns after being in prison for 25 years for the same charge, possibly to reclaim the house in which the restaurant is being run.

Aziz, a recently released convict who is on his way home, makes friends with Reza, a young man working on a fish farm. The cab is stopped, and Reza is arrested. The look at Reza gives Aziz reminds him of his own arrest 25 years ago. He reaches town to find his old home to find that it is now a restaurant, and walks in.

The scene shifts to inside the kitchen, where Atieh, Aziz’ ex-lover is busy preparing meals, assited by three other women, one of whom is Atieh’s daugther and Reza’s lover. The sky seems to fall on their heads as, though a pane in the door, Atieh spies Aziz in disbelief. The house is his, and they’re squatters. If they lose the restaurant, they lose everything.

Aziz is the central character of the film, even when he is not on screen. Everybody’s talking about him and wondering about his next move. Will he sell, or won’t he? He takes it upon himself to get Reza freed, and asks his rich friend who wants to buy the house, to get him a lawyer. This fuels rumours that Aziz is planning to sell the restaurant to his friends, and the women of the restaurant do whatever is possible to prevent it: mostly, of feeding him the most delicious looking food that you will ever see on screen, and of making him feel a part of the family.

The movie is, above all, about food. Watching it makes you regret having that rajma chawal or chicken biryani at the canteen, as dish after this is prepared with appetising sauces and photo-perfect garnishing. My mouth waters even as I think about that food. Must go to north Iran some day, and see if that food tastes as good as it looks.

Throughout the film, a lack of communication between two former lovers, Atieh and Aziz, confounds the issues. Atieh is full of pride, and unwilling to request Aziz to not sell or claim the house, even though he has not once asked for it. In fact, that he hardly speaks about it makes things confusing for the four women, as they try to get him to no sell it. There is also veiled criticism of a social practice – when men are sent to jail, their lovers are simply informed that they have skipped town. That happened when Aziz was arrested and Atieh was lied to, and when Reza was arrested. Also of young men who are forced into (supposedly) transporting arms because alternative occupations don’t yield enough money.

When Fish Fall in Love (mahiha ashegh mishavand) has a tight, small script centered around few characters and few events, but the suspense, the excitement and the emotions ensure that there’s not a dull moment. The title, though, doesn’t make much sense to me. The picturisation is rich in colour, with food that makes you want to chew at the screen, green mountains, colourful fruits and even the sea splashing against a precarious cafe on the rocks. I’m glad that Makhmalbaf’s ‘Sex and Philosophy’ was housefull.

The Fish Fall in Love (or When Fish fall in love – two names in use) won the Best Film award at the 7th Aubagne International Film Festival. What surprises me is that this is Ali Raffi’s first film, since it has the touch of a veteran. Many more beautiful stories to come, I hope.

Update: Another review, with spoiler (here). I disagree with the review that Aziz should not have been emotionless and confused, since that actually creates the suspense that runs through the movie. Secondly, Ali Raffi is a veteran theatre director and this is first film. His next is based on Romeo and Juliet.

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Osian’s Cinefan Film Fest: Paradise Now by Hany Abu-Assad

[Note: No spoilers]

“If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t do it again. It’s not worth endangering your life for a movie.” – Hany Abu-Assad, Director.

Said and Khaled are two young men who work for a car repairman in the West Bank. There are few jobs, and they have little interest in the job or in keeping the customers. Though Said’s family is barely able to make ends meet, life goes on. That’s when Jamal, a family friend, visits Said to inform him that he and Khaled have been chosen for a very important task. From then on, we’re led into the world of the underground, of terrorists who prey on impressionable young men, and sacrifice them for the cause, in exchange for a place in paradise.

Paradise Now is a movie about how the humiliation of the occupation of the West Bank by Israel drives jobless youth to sacrifice themselves to keep a cause alive. The movie seems critical of both sides – of Israel with mentions of the occupation of the West Bank and the constant fear of bombardment, and of Palestine with its storyline that questions repeatedly the suicide bombing tactics employed by the Palestinians. There is justification from the terrorists too: Jamal reasons that if the Palestinians accept the rule of might and forsake their liberty, then they would be no less than animals; to survive, they must fight, and the freedom of a people is more important than the life of individuals.

The making of this film was as troubled as the land where it was filmed: the location manager was kidnapped during the shoot and an Israeli missile blew up a car near the set. The flick is slick, with some smooth camerawork and picturisation. Khalid, played by Ali Suliman, is the slightly comical, less mature and more enthusiastic of the two. Said (Kais Nashef) is the quiet and thoughtful one who repeatedly questions their motives, and the concept of paradise. Most importantly, the two are projected as innocent, naive and impressionable young men, caught between what they see and what they’re told to believe. As outsiders, we tend to believe that there are schools where children are brainwashed and trained to kill. Hany Abu-Assad disagrees, and presents a more humane, sometimes comical picture – there’s a scene where Khalid, with a gun in hand and a flag around his shoulders, speaks first dispassionately into a camera, reading from a text, and then, speaking from the heart, looks at his parents through the lens and apologises to them. On inquiring about how his performance was, he is told that the camera didn’t work and he’d have to give it another shot. Though emotionally spent, he tries again.

The two scraggly boys are shaved and dressed in smart suits. Explosives are stuck to their bodies and they’re brought to barb wire fence through which they make their way into Israel.

From then on, the film comes into its own as the plot takes several turns with one of the two on the loose in Palestine with explosives that could blow up if not deactivated properly, and the other, searching for him. En route to the end, we’re subjected to several, though unfortunately forced, arguments on how Palestine should respond to the humiliation of occupation, and whether the kamikaze course of action is justifiable or not. Eventually, the side you agree with depends on whether you believe in Paradise or not, and how you can get there. Hany Abu-Assad has probably ended up offending both sides by presenting a balanced viewpoint.

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