Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Top 10 Drug Films

This is just a list of personal favorites

10. A Clockwork Orange

This is as brutal as it can get. Any director would match the violence with a pace in the editing and the soundtrack. Not here, Alex sings "singing in the rain" while bashing up people, calmly goes about ripping the clothes of girls, and makes people suffer slowly. The film promises ultraviolence, and delivers it, a cocktail of milk and narcotics; of rape and beethoven. If you like this film, also catch 2001:A Space Odyssey, nothing really to do with drugs, but the odyssey part in the end, with the intergalactic travel is a visual treat.

09. Blow

Like most American drug films, the film has an upper and a downer. Based on the real life story of George Jung, the film shows the ins and outs of those involved in the Cocaine Business, from the Meddelin Cartel to the famous columbian druglord, Escobar. Jhonny Depp plays the role of the dealer, who starts with weed and graduates to cokem and then to prison.

08. Easy Rider

The director and the actor were mostly stoned or drunk throughout the making of the film, and the story follows two bikers across the American Southwest. It is a simple film, pointing out the mundane realities of freedom, a film that will really open up your mind to a lot of things (like Aliens). This movie is from more or less the same bunch of guys who made 'the trip'. The climax sequence is a montage that will blow you away.

07. Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

The scene above is a bar full of reptiles. Jhonny Depp plays a reporter who goes into Nevada to cover the terribly long Hell's Angles motorcycle race with his lawyer friend. They are on a high the whole time: "We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, laughers, screamers... Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls". The sequence in a Las Vegas circus is probably the best ten minutes of cinema ever.

06. Reefer Madness

The movie is a classic drug film, no film has managed to show the uselessness of a dope fiend, or a 'marihuana' addict more exploitatively than this film. The film is liable to make anyone scared of dope. What is even funnier is that the so called high school teenagers experimenting with the drug, look like today's uncles and aunts. Connects the drug to crime, probably the first film to do so.

05. Requiem for a Dream

The film has far more cuts than any other film, the creator of the hip hop montage, the film is a downer all the way. The background score compliments the film perfectly, and Aronofsky uses a bunch of techniques to perfection. Scared the hell out of America when it was released, and has made a lot of people quit.

04. The Trip

The film came up with the montage that makes requiem so appealing a few decades ahead of its time. The film shows a hallucinatory expirience of just one LSD trip (Peter Fonda again), and is compelete with dwarfs, disembodied hands of little children, and beautiful women overlayed with multicolored patterns.

03. The Wonderland Expirience

Shot entirely in Goa, this film follows a young man's journey in discovering his individual spirituality. Another film that will open people's minds about a lot of ideas. Charlie, the protagonist is lost in some unspecefied land and meets a series of people who guide him in the search for his father. The climax of the film has an unforgettable twist, a very weird and enjoyable film.

02. Trainspotting

The film follows Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) and his bunch of heroin-addict friends. Exteremely stylish editing, combined with a sometimes hilarious-sometimes horrifying storyline, makes it a film that can be watched over and over again.

01. The Yellow Submarine

Follow the yellow submarine on its voyage through the seas of time, science, monsters, nothing, heads and holes. There is a healthy dose of beatles songs, a singular message "All you need is love", and the entry of all the four beatles will forever be etched in your minds. It is an animated film like no ther, with a unique use of lines and colors.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Kinetiks in my Life

The Kinetik is a scooter, a local brand, a healthy, bulky, fuel-guzzling machine that had dogged me from my childhood days. The first one that came my way was in something like the seventh standard, belonged to this friend of mine, who used to take me around by making me sitting in front of him like children sit on the fuel tanks of bikes. He was so big that his arms went around me, and I was a thin little midget of a fellow (but I had to bend down or my head would hurt his chin). In fact, the whole bunch of us guys got to ride on it, sometimes four at a time, on one tiny scooter, and the girls got impressed just because we did it for them. Or for some other reason, I wouldn't know. One of the earliest lessons of riding on a two-wheeler I learnt then, which was never to hold the left handle with the right hand, because then you didn't know how to steer (you would go left when you wanted to go right, and then you would wobble and fall). What I enjoyed most about the scooter was that just when the rider would brake to stop, you could dismount by jumping backwards over the rear wheel (the spare, attached to the back). There was also this hook in the front where you could keep bags, and once, we took this big plastic bag, filled it up with water balloons, and went around the place throwing it on people and then zooming away. This was not eccentric behavior, because it was during holi time. The scooter got sold, the friend faded away, and I got a new bunch of friends.
It was the time for antics on the road. The highway was nearby, and rushing up and down the roads was great fun, sometimes teasing and laughing at truck drivers (once, pretending to have a gun, and shooting them, the sporting fellow had the laugh of his life).
There was this other time, in the back roads of a school, I was on a kinetik (without a license) and this friend of mine on a bike, and for some reason, we decided to have a drag race. The Kinetik was better than the bike at the pickup, I accelerated like crazy, going really fast, and well ahead of the bike. Now the road opened up into the main street, and none of us had decided where to stop. The end of the road was the assumed finishing line, and I was well ahead of him. Something just hit me, that if there were vehicles going up and down the road, they wouldn't see me, I wouldn't see them, and there would be an accident. So I braked hard. Remember, that all I was thinking of till that point of time was going as fast as I could. The thing shook like a bull trying to throw someone off at a rodeo, and that's when the other bike overtook me, shot out into the road, went to the other side, then stopped. Nothing hit the bike, but I fell bodily, scraped both my knees, but fortunately nothing serious happened to anyone. He apparently won the race, and I was laughed at, but that's that. It was an insane thing to do anyway, and it paid me right.
I am not a heavy guy. So when I am alone on a two wheeler, especially a Kinetik, it can go really, really fast. This old dilapidated, rusting thing with the visor coming off and shit, was a fun thing to ride. It was the middle of the night and some friend had left his scooter near my home, I was headed to his place for the night, and I was riding it over - without a license, or a helmet, for that matter. But it was the good old days when the roads were free, and I was on the highway. Now judging by the cars and trucks rushing past me at insane speeds, I really didn't see how fast I was going. The wind was rushing through my hair, I was enjoying the night and the moonlight, when I realise suddenly that I am scared of something. I look down on the speedometer and see that I am doing an eighty. A truck barrels past me at some godforsaken speed, disappears into the distance, and I slow down. Just in time too, right ahead of me was a police patrol. It takes the turn I need to take, and I shadow it for a while, in perfect safety, and then reach my destination.
Now the thumb rule is that any fool can drive a Kinetik. No really, if you know how to cycle, you can totally handle this thing. So a friend of mine has no problem with trusting me with his bike, and I take it around for a nice spin, from points A to G going through everything in the middle, and revisiting a few on the way. Now the vehicle is behaving strangely, stopping every now and then, and apparently, the way to fix it is to bounce it a bit on the seats. Not knowing that I was running low on fuel (because of the prices, the pointer is almost always near the empty limit), I keep going. In the middle of nowhere, I run out of fuel. Then I realise that the Kinetik is heavy. But I push it along in the hot sun anyway, uphill, and then coast on it downhill, and then saddle it and push it along with my legs on a steady stretch and a quarter of an hour later, I end up at a petrol pump.
Now these scooters are old, their days are numbered, and these trusty things are on the verge of fading from the roads. Newer, sleeker models are seeping in, maybe a new generation will look back at them fondly, but I want to remember when I can.

दल चावल

Cooking was somethig I never really paid much attention to. Usually got two square meals a day and a hurried breakfast at home, and a sandwhich or a dosa and a couple of samosas or a vada pav was enough to get me through the day. Things changed when I was left to fend for myself at home, with my parents going away for a while. The first few days was a great time - ordering from restaurants around the place. Every time the food was a little cold, or a little stale - if the rice was not, then the peas were in the pulav, or if it was a pizza, the thing went rubbery before the end. Don't know why it is so, but food ordered from a hotel never really seemed to fill up the stomach. Anyway, push came to shove, ended up getting food poisoned, retched the filthy half-digested excuse for food out, had a drink and sat to think about things.

It was time to start cooking my own food, and something that was not maggi. The procedure was a little straightforward for dal rice, which is more or less staple. Put a measure of dal in, a little water, and a spice called 'haldi' on top, then put in the rice, add water to that, put everything in a pressure cooker, pour a little water at the bottom (or you make a bomb) and close the lid, wait for the steam to come, put on the stopper, wait for it to whistle a few times, and then the food would be done.

Sounds simple?

The first time around, there was too little water, and I didn't let it whistle nearly enough times, got the whole thing out after five whistles. Big mistake. Everything turned out undercooked, the dal and rice had merely swollen up a little, there was a lot of steam around, a hungry stomach (with its contents emptied), and no food. Put everything I made down the drain, and started again. Thought for a second about famine in Africa, but let it pass.

The second time around, I let it whistle seven times, put in a little more water, and finally sighed in relief looking at the food. It was edible, but just barely. Had added too much of the spice in the dal, but the rice was more or less perfect.

The third time around, I knew, somehow, exactly how much water to put, how much spice to add (and to let it spread like a film on the water instead of dropping in lumps) and I not only ended up with something edible, it was actually good.

Not too much of an achievement really, but the thing was there is something about eating food that you have cooked yourself that is immensely satisfying, it's like you never have to worry about hunger anymore (not that I did, but still). Basically, it fills the stomach just a little more.

This is what I'm watching

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dead End

The railway station was still alive at two in the morning. A man was selling smokes and tea... his cycle was his stall. Stale, old and cold vada pavs were available, the station was full of tired and sleepy people, and when the train came, it was almost as crowded as it would have been in the peak hours. This was the last train for the day, and most of the travelers had an hours journey ahead of them. I climbed in, I had to travel just one stop, and then take a bus ride home. Hung out near the door, feeling the quiet wind, and thinking thoughts of nothing in particular.
The railway station drew up, I got down just before a huge influx of people climbed in. God help them I thought, and went out. Outside the station, everything was empty. The street lights lit up the concrete... there was nothing on the roads. Another man, in another cycle was selling cigarettes, but that was all. A couple of beggars were sleeping soundly on the footpath, on a bed made out of newspapers. The shutters of all the shops were shut, bolted and locked. I headed over to the bus stop, there were no lines, and no buses either. It would be stupid to wait in an empty bus stop, with no buses in sight, and I was wondering what to do next when a big red bus drew up. It slowed down, I climbed in. Apart from the driver and the conductor, there were six people. One old married couple, the man glaring at me through his thick soda glass spectacles, and the old woman in the wrinkled sari whose face was crunched as if she had no lower jaw. There was another man with bloodshot eyes, singing away some song he alone knew, a bald man with a thick gold chain around his neck, and another fellow reading a book on some technical topic. The other occupant was a woman yakking away to someone on a mobile phone. The bus wasn't exactly my route, but it would drop me close enough to my home for me to walk it up, and I didn't have too many choices really. I should have realized something was funny, when the conducter came upto me and gave me the ticket. It had letterings of a language I could not recognize, and when I looked at him questioningly, he laughed and said "you probably need some time."