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Sunday, 28 May 2017

# 43 - Of Dhinchak Puja, Varun Pruthi, and other things garbage

Pooja, in India, is a fairly common name; it's the equivalent of a Rahul or an Abhishek. Shout out "Pooja" in a crowded place and you're sure to see a couple of heads turning back to look at you. Trust me, it works, even if there's no girl in the vicinity. Works even better if you are naked, but, I digress.

Before I go on, it is only fair that I mention where this rant is coming from.

Remember 'Free basics' and ''? It was Mark Zuckerberg's grand plan to provide free access of the internet to everyone. It didn't take off. We, the people, quickly understood that the basic tenets of free internet would mess up net neutrality...and we protested and protested until the government took notice.

Thank God we didn't get free internet; net neutrality or not.

"Why, you capitalist SOB, would you say that?"

I am glad you asked. 

Do you know what we used the internet for when it's given free? Zuckerberg might tell you that the Internet can be used for sharing crucial information, knowledge, news, basic services blah blah blah.

It is true, the internet CAN be used for all of those things. What we end up using it for, however, is an entirely different matter.

Yep. Free WiFi used mostly to watch porn. Bet you didn't see that coming, eh Mark?

Forget free, even when we pay for it, we tend to use it mostly for (ahem) unproductive purposes.

A friend and I keep discussing if the internet is a boon or bane, and we always end up talking about the regularity with which it provides us pop-culture icons and nuggets of gold and I am not even talking about Justin-Baby-Bieber here. It was one of such conversations that led to this post.

Back to Pooja, Dhinchak Pooja.

Until a few weeks back, almost no one had heard of Dhinchak Pooja, barring her die-hard fans of course. 

But now, everyone is talking about Dhinchak Pooja and her swag wali topi, her selfie game level, how she drives a stationery Audi and what not.

Have a look:

If there's one thing that we can unanimously agree upon, it is the fact that aside from her remarkable  ability for consuming alcohol (refer her video ‘Daaru Daaru Daaru’), kicking ass (refer to lyrics of aforementioned ‘Daaru Daaru Daaru’), and the extraordinary skill to take selfies anywhere anytime - the girl has little or no talent. Especially so far as singing is concerned.

Which is okay, in spite of what THEY might tell you, everybody can’t dance, and everybody can't sing.

There are plenty of people who lack particular talents, but I don't suspect they are willing to go public with a show of how unremarkable, nay, how pathetic they are in that particular field.

You see, that's where we have gone wrong. It appears that some of us got fed up with talented people excelling in their respective fields, and decided to strike back. 

Dhinchak Pooja, Kanti Shah, KRK, Hero Alom etc. have mastered the art of being so bad, that they stand out.

And in our quest for social media supremacy (also known as ‘me first syndrome’), we, the mango people, eager to make fun of these creatures end up making them stars. 

Which brings me to Varun Pruthi, this guy:

Varun Pruthi - Father, mother, son, daughter, brother, and sister to every Indian.

Varun is a different case. Unlike apni Pooja, Varun doesn't sing. Varun doesn't dance. He does get teary eyed though a la Satyameva Jayate. 

You see,  Varun is in the business of preaching, badly. His videos are so obviously staged that WWE stars would feel confident about their character's storyline.

What separates Varun Pruthi from the other social media superstars is the fact that he isn’t trying to get your attention by being bad at something (even though he is, he doesn’t use it as his USP), he is trying to pull at the strings of your heart.

At last count, 31 of my facebook friends had liked his FB page. I am judging these people unless of course, they are in it to make fun of the guy, because at the end of the day Varun Pruthi is a smarter version of Dhinchak Puja.

Varun explaining things in that simple way of his. 

Varun is a wannabe actor (his handle VarunActor gives it away) except he couldn't make it in the movies or television. His motivation for uploading videos may have been genuine to start off with, but with time he has gotten cheesier and cheesier, and I suspect that it is all a cover for bijness.

He is apparently a motivational speaker as well.

Oh, and he is selling stuff too.

Whose cause? Varun's?

Bad actors, fake tears, repetitive inspirational music, tacky lines pretending to be motivational, it's all there. And in spite of that, 58 lakh people have fallen for his act.

Dear reader, the fact is there's only one thing that sells more than mediocrity, it is garbage, the awfulness of the free kind (that's why RGV films aren't popular, sure they are crap, but you gotta buy tickets).

And there's nothing wrong with garbage, I have written eloquently on why I love Taher Shah before.
These are times of showmanship; if you got it - flaunt it, if you don't, flaunt it even more.

Meena boy - I like him, the kid's got attitude.

The problem is free garbage isn't just restricted to singing, dancing, and do-gooders. There are others who pride themselves on their ability to disseminate BS, of course to them it's knowledge.

So we have people proudly stating that UNESCO has declared India's national anthem as the best in the world, NASA taking a well-lit photo from outer space of India showing how funky India looks on Diwali night and a guy on Facebook trying to convince others that India is actually an acronym for "independent nation declared in August". 

Then there's the 2000 rupee note with the GPS embedded chip, the post with the image of a malnourished child, saying "if you scroll down without typing 'amen' then you WILL die tonight.

You get the drift.

Oh, and amen.

Forget free, there are times when I think we don't deserve the internet at all.

We are all in it, your poison might be different from mine, but we are all guilty as hell. You might not be the kind to share the ‘UNESCO declares PM Modi as best PM’ but you might be sharing cat pictures. You might not use free wi-fi for porn, but you could be downloading  Kim K’s coffee table book that has nothing but her selfies.

Every time I see a teenager posing next to Ronald McDonald and throwing gang signs while taking a selfie I feel the strong urge to take his cellphone away and throwing it in the general direction of the Arabian Sea.

And then I check my browser history and forgive him immediately.

Perhaps end up taking a selfie myself - with Ronald and the said teenager. 

Maybe it's time for me to make my debut as a singer/video star.

How does Krazzy K sound?

Images taken from here, here, here and here. Rest from Varun Pruthi's facebook page.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

# 42 - Sarkar 3 - A review OR What the hell is Ram Gopal Verma smoking?

I admire Ram Gopal Verma.
No, not because of his skills as a filmmaker, but because of his powers of persuasion.

How does he convince people to finance his films? How does he sway distributors? How does he coax theatre owners? How does he repeatedly convince Amitabh Bachchan to work in his movies? How did he manage to rope in Abhishek Bachchan for a non-speaking appearance in Sarkar 3?

And so on...

Sarkar was a good movie, in fact, it was arguably the last decent movie that had RGV's name attached to it. RGV made no attempts at hiding his source material (The Godfather) but the adaptation was clever enough to hold its own.

The sequel - Sarkar Raj, however, had nothing working in its favour apart from Bachchan, the senior Bachchan that is. Kangana Ranaut might as well have had Sarkar Raj in mind while speaking of nepotism in Bollywood – Sarkar Raj was an all family affair, it is likely that Ram Gopal Verma got a family pack deal ( Amitabh aur Abhishek ke saath Aishwarya free, or more likely, Amitabh aur Aishwarya ke saath Abhishek free).

But Sarkar 3 manages to do something extraordinary, it makes Sarkar Raj look good.

**Spoilers Ahead**

Sarkar 3 is a 2 hour 10 minutes long movie, but sitting through it felt like a 4-hour ordeal. The plot broadly follows the same arc as the predecessors:

A. Introduction of Amitabh Bachchan aka Sarkar as the angry old man who wields tremendous power in Maharashtra.

B. Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinda

C. Big connected businessman seeks favour from Sarkar but of course, it is against Sarkar's ethics.

D. Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinda

E. "Yeh kaam main nahin karunga, aur tujhe bhi karne nahin dunga".

F. Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinda

G. Big connected businessman figures that the only way to carry out his diabolical scheme is to bump off Sarkar. He is aided by a number of pawns, viz. rival politicians, gangsters,  etc. Roles played by stock RGV actors.

H. Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinda

I. Sarkar betrayed by someone close to him, but we are not sure who. 

J. Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinda

K. Sarkar on backfoot. All is seemingly lost.

L. Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinda

M. Someone close to Sarkar dies. A rare vulnerable moment for Sarkar.

N. Realisation that the Big Connected Businessman has the backing of an even bigger figure.

O. Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinda

P. In a swift turn of events, it is revealed that Sarkar had known who the culprit was all along. A figure who previously appeared to be incapable of aiding Sarkar, or not much of a threat to the enemies, comes to Sarkar’s aid.

Q. Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinda

R. Montage of vengeance sequences.

S. Govinda Govinda interspersed with Sitar music

T. While the image of Sarkar remains as strong as ever, hints that the power has shifted elsewhere, fully with Sarkar’s consent.

U. Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinda

If the repetitive 'Govinda Govinda' bits above irritated you, imagine how bad it is translated on screen? Especially because unlike the first part, there is no remote context here, a guy might as well be saying "main susu karke aata hu", and our eardrums are bombarded with the overpowering theme, as if that line leads to a massive revelation. 

Now, the question isn’t how many times you can see the same plot with the same actor over and over again (hello there, Rahul & Prem), the question is what happened to the creative abilities of a director who had given us gems such as ‘Rangeela’, ‘Satya’, and ‘Company’?

RGV’s knack of using odd angles has reached an all time low (pun intended). The camera focusses on the weirdest of objects repeatedly – if there is a subtle message that he intends to convey, the viewer is probably missing it. The camera, in particular, has an unhealthy obsession with three objects – a Lord Ganesha bust, a boxer dog statue/footrest, and a portrait of Abhishek Bachchan smiling. The third item gets equal screen time as Amitabh Bachchan; I sincerely hope Bachchan Jr. is making some money out of this.

"Look Pa, No hands."

The very first scene of the movie makes it amply clear that this is a ride to mediocrity town. Sarkar is making a speech in front of what appears to be a crowd of zombies. Every time Bachchan takes a pause during his speech (which is way too often) the crowd mindlessly chants “Sarkaar Sarkaaaaar”. The tone unwavering, the pitch, unchanging. It might as well have been one single audio recording being played in a loop.

Sarkar 3 does not go downhill as it progresses, it maintains its unexceptional quality with remarkable consistency, there is no redeeming scene or standout performance, no Amitabh Bachchan or Manoj Bajpayee can salvage this disaster.

The script and the dialogues are so bad that this was a disaster even before the first shot, but RGV clearly took up the challenge to further eff it up.  

Amitabh Bachchan tries his best but is a let-down. Unlike the Subhash Nagre from the previous films - who spoke little and in spite of his fragile appearance had an aura of invincibility around him; this time he is made to talk, a lot, and ends up sounding more like a delusional old man rather than, well, Sarkar.

Manoj Bajpayee is the least worst of the lot.

"They made me look like Kejriwal"

Yami Gautam looks good, her hairstyle reminiscent of stereotyped vamps from the 90s. From her vacant gaze, it appears she is still carrying a Kaabil hangover.  

Jackie Shroff: Oh, Jackie, Jackie boy. Looks like Ram Gopal Verma slipped you some of the stuff that he has been taking. Unfortunately, unlike RGV, you have to appear on-screen. Here’s a tip: Don’t act in a movie whose director called your son ‘a bikini babe’. RGV clearly doesn’t like the Shroffs. A career ruining performance this.

Ronit Roy looks tough and angry. In other words, he plays Ronit Roy.

Amit Sadh gets a meaty role with sufficient scope for performance but is a thorough disappointment. Jackie Shroff is a tough act to beat, but Amit Sadh is the clear winner here. He hams as if there’s no tomorrow, and falters in every department of acting. This is particularly sad because he was quite decent in  'Kai Po Che'.With this performance, he joins the unholy quartet of Sonu Nigam, Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor, and Imran Khan - arguably the worst actors to have ever graced the silver screen. At least Sonu Nigam has an alternate profession, and the others have famous relatives/'friends', to the best of my knowledge Amit Sadh has neither of the two, so he better buck up. 

There are two scenes that merit special mention.

The first [refer to point (E)] is when Sarkar turns down the businessman's request. After a brief period of uncomfortable silence, the businessman finally says something - we imagine that he is either going to plead or threaten. Instead, he says those three two magical words to Sarkar before departing.

"Love you."


The second scene is a more subtle one, I presume that it is an ode to the fact that in RGV's parallel universe, nothing is quite what it appears to be. 

Amit Sadh receives a call from Parag Tyagi (Sarkar's aide) asking him to come down. Amit Sadh informs Parag over the phone that he will be right there. 

 What is so odd about this, you ask. Not much, except that the character of Parag Tyagi is mute. Why and how he conveys to Amit Sadh that he is downstairs and is expecting him remains the biggest mystery of the movie.

But that's Ram Gopal Verma and his films for you. Perhaps his movies are way too ahead of their time, maybe they are great and we are the ones who don't get them, or maybe he was serious when he had said that he makes movies for himself and himself alone. Perhaps directing movies is his own way of telling people to 'FO'. 

Who knows?

But, there is one thing I am fairly certain of; for all his powers of persuasion, nothing is going to convince movie-goers to watch an RGV film playing in theaters anytime soon. 

Images taken from here, here, and, here.