First I didn’t blog for ages. Then I came back to blogging. But since I was out of practice, I didn’t blog cos I forgot I was back to blogging. Somewhere in all this, I am trying to find deep philosophy and irony but instead all I see is forgetfulness and old age. Sigh.

Reminder to self. Blog. Sometime this century. Preferably.

Say what now?

Clean and Dry Intimate Wash. A freshness and fairness cream for vaginas. Yes. Really. As the info blurb informs us — Designed to address the problem women face in their private parts. Groannn.

The ad is also a masterpiece. The guy has lost interest because the girl’s nether regions have darkened. Or have other ‘problems’. Either way, enter Clean and Dry and one is back in business. Girl scampers around playing catch-me-if-you-can, hides car keys, and even slips his phone into her shorts. Cos that’s obviously the best way to lead him there. Or as pal Peter puts it —

If he can’t come, he’ll call.


YouTube comments range from What the F is this? to Can I also use this on my face? to Will they make a version of this for men? As one can see, this promises to be a source of joy for years to come. Stay tuned.

One is ever grateful to Peter for introducing us to this product. Um. You know what I mean.

Agent Vinod

In which we review a movie, talk about some others and generally waste time and ticket money

Agent Vinod

For those of you who came in late (hmpfh!) or have forgotten who I am (sniffle!) — I love bad, cheesy, campy, tacky, kitschy Hindi movies. I belong to that tribe of thinglings who has watched the original 1977 Agent Vinod. Not the by-accident, innocent-kid-in-the-clutches-of-Doordarshan type of watched. But hunted and tracked down DVD and watched. Yes, we are very pro-choice, whattodo. Anyhoo, the Bollywood spy-thriller genre is very special to me. Rajesh Khanna in The Train (1970), Jeetu in Farz (1967) and Raksha (1981) (both Agent 116 movies, and the latter a hidden treasure by R D Burman), Jeetu again in Bond 303 (1985) (another undiscovered Pancham treasure) and of course, Mithun and Agent Gopi/Gunmaster-G9 in Surakksha (1979) and Wardat (1981), two movies that deserve a separate series dedicated to them. Interestingly, all of these movies, except Bond 303, are directed by Ravikant Nagaich, the God of Hindi spy movies. Ooh, that’s who I wanna write about! But as Shammi Kapoor says in Manoranjan, woh kissa phir kabhi.

Agent Vinod. Truly, madly, deeply, this is a movie that deserves a review and how! Heck, I knew I was gonna write one before I saw the film even. But alas. Such a mind-effing number has this movie done on me, that even I, with all my articulation skills (koi shaq?), cannot do justice to it. So instead all I have are bullet-point observations. (Yep, the usage of the phrase bullet-point in the review of a trigger-happy spy movie is intentional. Let’s move on now.)

For those of you who care, there are spoilers. Although, if I were you, I would not care.

  • Dr Metla. Now what is with this dude?! He punctuates the movie every 14.3 minutes to smile weirdly and say — Hello. I am here. I exist. I am the only recurring character in the movie who has absolutely no explanation for being there, but let that not even remotely lead you to believe that I am the surprise bad guy. Of course not.
  • Speaking of recurring characters — just needed to clarify something about the Farrah Fawcett babe. She was put there to a) establish that Agent-saab is not Bond and therefore doesn’t sleep around with the women he rescues and b) to have her show up at the appropriate moment at a high-profile high-security wedding and wave her dainty hand and say — ye mere saath hain, so just like that the gun-toting security guards let Saif and Kareena in with no background checks required. Yes? Good. Just making sure.
  • Did anyone keep track of the fact that Agent Vinod was captured in every single country he entered? And sometimes even twice? Some spy that. And yet, nobody ever thinks to maybe, um, kill him?
  • Movie has a camel named Zilleh whose owner is Prem Chopra no less. And yet no background song jile le jile le aayo aayo zilleh le? Talk about a missed opportunity.
  • Props for casting B P Singh, creator of the TV series CID, as Vinod’s boss. Yes, he looks like a dork in an ill-fitting suit, but considering that CID and its over-the-top ACP Pradyuman are to TV what spy movies are to Hindi cinema (well, sort of), it was a nice lil bit of inside-joke happy for me! Also for casting Ram Kapoor. I love this guy, I don’t know why. He shows up on screen and I smile. All two hundred fifty pounds of him. Sigh.
  • Doctor Kareena points to the RIGHT and says, snifflingly — yahaan LEFT mein mera ghar hua karta thha. And I thought I was the only one who got her left and right confused. I should have been a doctor too! Damn.
  • What is with that mujra? What’s Kareena wearing? Did you know they still do hand-gajras in Hindi film mujras? (I rhymed!) Is that song only in place so the audience can have some girl-on-girl action? Okay then.
  • Dude is flying helicopter with a nuke on it, so he can crash it in an unused copper mine. Calls girlfriend one last time. Girlfriend informs him that she’s gonna die as well. Why? Oh, I have been shot. What?? Yes, I have TWO bullets to the liver. Please note. Not — I have been shot. Not — I have been shot in the liver. No. I have been shot and I have precisely two bullets in my liver. Two hours, twenty two minutes, and two hundred twenty two characters later, we have suddenly decided that the beauty of the damn movie shall lie in the detail. (Booty is in the tail!)

But after all this, one must say, one had fun. Its silly, crazy, mindless and noisy, but then that’s exactly what one expects going into a movie like this. Sriram Raghavan does action well, keeping scenes tight and his love for cinema shines through (although Johnny Gaddar (2007) made that kinda obvious already.) There is also much to be said for Raghavan’s awesome use of background score in the film, which ranges from the regular to the unusual. The only romantic number in the film is interestingly picturized as a background to a shootout in a brothel. But sabse maximum happiness for me, came in seeing both my gods — R D Burman and Ilayaraaja — being paid homage to in the background score! O meri jaan maine kahaa from The Train (1970) and rakamma kaiyathattu from Thalapathi (1991). Sigh! For that alone, one is willing to forgive a lot. Oh one must not forget — special mention is to be made of Pritam’s acknowledged inspiration/lift from Boney M.’s Rasputin as being awesomely bum-shaking. But most of Boney M. is likely to get that reaction out of me.

Super-spy movies are about the infallibility of the spy. You know he’s gonna make it, no suspense there. But how he’s gonna get there and how much fun he’s gonna have getting there, is why we watch them. Agent Vinod is a movie full of people, action, locations and adventure. Also, loopholes and stupidities. None of which are deal-breakers. However, somewhere along the way, it gets too full of itself. And that’s where it falters. Taking oneself too seriously is always trouble.

True of life. Even truer of Hindi spy movies.

We are Beethoven

Just like that, we went away. And just like that, we’re back. Moons later, upgraded, freshly bottled, and in a (hopefully) much-improved formula. The WTF quality however, is intact. Wholesome-Tutti-Fruity goodness, that is.

For those of you who have seen Jab We Met, I feel like Kareena returning home after having eloped with random sidey. Looking around tentatively and uncertainly, torn between the hope that nobody notices and yells at you and yet hoping that you were missed just a little. For those of you who haven’t seen Jab We Met .. well .. we’ll work on that.

And pliss, let it not be said that I took three years to return. It is technically, two years and .. Okay, I chup.


Sugar and spice and all things nice

In which we remember our blog, our Telugu-ness and our lunch. (not necessarily in that order.)

Mango Rice and Ugadi Pachchadi

Yello. Please note the conspicuous absence of apologies and excuses. I have evolved so much, no?

So we woke up this morning feeling all wholesome, traditional and festival-ey. As this tends to be a bit of a rare occasion we usually like to commemorate it with wholesome, traditional and festival-ey food. And nicely enough, today be Ugadi. As they say, timing is everything. So here we have for you two things —

First, the Ugadi pachchadi, the traditional chutney/mixture combining the six primary tastes (shaD-ruchi) that symbolizes the different experiences that make up life. (Yes, deep philosophy can be found anywhere, you just have to look for it.) The six tastes in question are sweet, bitter, sour, tart, chili and salt. Jaggery for sweet, tamarind for sour, raw mango for tart, red chili for chili and salt for salt. Neem flowers are used for bitterness, and if you cannot find them then please don’t substitute karela/bitter gourd. It doesn’t work. Really. I’ve tried.

The tart and sour thing confused me for a while, but try sucking on a piece of tamarind versus a raw mango and you’ll quickly know the difference. Tart is what makes your tongue click against the roof of your mouth with a ‘tcha’ sound. Yes, that is tart. I think they call it vagaru in Telugu. Its that tongue pricking feeling that is most prominent in baby raw mangoes.

The funda of eating this pachchadi, as mom explains it, is that you have a spoon of this the very first thing in the morning on Ugadi. The first taste you encounter (after the taste of your toothpaste, preferably) determines how the rest of your year will be. I imagine the system can be rigged easily enough by putting copious amounts of sweet, but that’s a whole different ball of jaggery.

The second entity in the picture is the luminescent raw mango rice, that symbolizes the presence of one too many raw mangoes in the fridge that were bought for the aforementioned pachchadi. No, but seriously. Raw mango rice (known as maamidikaaya chaddi in Telugu. No, not chaddi as in what Dada Kondke used to wear. This is the softer d sound.) is truly a work of art. One of the simplest of rices to make (the only thing simpler is perhaps lemon rice) — it combines cooked rice, grated raw mango and tadka (also known as phodni, bagaar, popu, seasoning, whatever-you-wanna-call-it) to create a simple, flavorful dish that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Heavenly, it is.

Anyhoo, if you want recipes, please ask. If you want to eat it, cook it.

Happy new year, Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Yugaadi, and Cheti Chand to all!