Monday, July 05, 2010

Wine Shop/ Beer Store opens at Hyper City, Hyderabad

This one truly did inspire me, or lets say, en-spirited me to post again.. :)

So, there it goes.. the long awaited Wine/ Liquor/ Beer section has opened at the HyperCity, InOrbit Mall, Hyderabad.

For long, HyperCity has been the premier super-store in Hyderabad, atleast most specifically for Hitech City area, and the un-used and later mis-used (by housing coke and pepsi there) section for Spirits and Wines has finally opened this Friday, to much uproar.

The reason, this makes me soo happy is, because all around this area, the small Wine Shops are simply pathetic. Not only are they not well stocked, with hardly a choice of wines to choose from, but they also sell stuff much above MRP, which is like a norm with all of them around here. Plus, the service at these shops is not much to talk about, to put it softly.

Read in the TOI recently, that new liquor licenses were auctioned in the state, and apparently, although Hypercity couldnt acquire one (due to high price ??? ), but now, they seemed to have entered into a profit-share agreement or something with an entity called 'Janapriya Liquidz', probably someone who did acquire the license, and have got them to operate out of their vacant spirits section.

Experience: Well, its still early days, and they have just got the show to start running. As of now, they still didnt have proper price stickers on the shelves etc, nor did they have the automatic/ digital billing systems up yet, but its a good start and they DID bill at MRP :). You can navigate around your trolley and pick your liking and get them billed at the counter. Am hoping, they will build upon the existing infrastructure to better the experience.

Selection: Well, wouldnt claim to know what all they house, but they had a reasonable selection of Indian wines - Sula, Grover, Four Seasons, both Red and White Wines. No foreign wines yet.
Beers- they had Kingfisher, Tuborg, Carlsberg, Royal Challenge. Spirits: Smirnoff Vodtka, Bacardi White run, Breezers, selection of Scotch, single malt etc.

So, here is a toast to HyperCity for bring this long-awaited section to life. Cheers!!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

IPL Thoughts, Balaji's comeback and more...

Well, it took an inspiring Laxmipathy Balaji comeback to break my slumber on this blog. To be honest, for all these day (or months..) I havnt had an inclination to write up anything worthwhile. Not that this is going to be an enlightning post.

So, IPL is in full flow.. and IMO losing some of its inital interest levels. The games are too closely pack to even remember who defeated who.. Actually thats a challenge for the IPL organizers..lets see how they can achieve this.

Anyway, coming back to IPL and L Balaji, it was heartening to see him back and bowling again. Even if it was more than a few yards slower than what he used to.. but he still managed to strike 5 blows to .......hmm... Punjab XI ( there, I forgot the opponents for a minute..). Bowling slow medium, but with a lot of control and variety, it was a treat of a different kind. Being a fan of the smiling assassin (or something of the kind, that he was called in his previous tenure), I was rooting for him to strike big and he did. Though, one shouldnt be carried away by his hat-trick in the last over, which doesnt mean much IMO, his overall approach to bowling was smart.

Another interesting snippet to share is, that immediately after the win, as the Chennai team was heading towards the dressing room, everyone congratulaing Balaji, I saw Joginder Sharma (the bowler Balaji presumely replaced in the lineup 2 matches back) came from behind and jumped on Balaji's back in a congratulatory manner... yeah, he jumped on his back.. the same back that has kept Balaji out of action for nearly 2.5 years... Feel free to read between the lines..

Another interesting sight in last nights match between Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils was Munaf Patel, the I-shan't-field-nor-bat Munaf who has frustrated the ****s of regular cricket followers by his lethargy and dont-care-a-damn attitude on the field. With Warne at helm, I thought Munaf was not only bowling to a certain plan, but also was trying 'his' best to field and even back up throws to the stumps. Warne seems to have found a new field position for him - Covers. Now, usually that sounds foolish to place a man of Munaf's talents on such an imminent position as covers, but with T20, where giving away 'only' a single is smart bowling (specially in the last few overs), I thought it worked well. Warne had his best fields - Watson, Kaif in the outfield saving boundaries while Munaf was actually trying his best in the covers. Damn smart of Warne in my opinion.

Another striking thing in RR camp is the way the juniors, read non-stars seem to gel with the team. They seem to have the gall to go upto Warne or Watson and pat on their backs and like. Now, I dont imagine Punjab XI's Tanmay Srivastava to do that with Yuvraj Singh, incidentally who gave the youngster a major verbal thrashing in one of the earlier games, on being refused a single. I think its the same story with Bangalore RC as well.

Anyway, for my moneys worth, there are only three teams out there playing allround quality criket - RR, DD and CSK. If I were in the business of predicting results I would imagine CSK taking on RR in the finals, with the final going either way.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Recap 2007

All you folks who missed me on this blog for all this time.. (does that even amount to 1 person? :-/ ), here I am back on the job at the fag end of the year.. This is most certainly the last post of this year.. to cap as the 12th post of the year.. hmmm.. 12 posts in 2007 comparing to 32 for 2006. So there, am certainly not upto the challenge to feed this blog enough.. lets see what 2008 brings...

2007 had me watching a lot of movies... a lot.. and a lot of good ones.. I DID watch a lot of classics, popular english titles and a whole lot of Hindi mainstream ones too.. What was nice to see was that this year saw a surge in quality film making. True, the Partners and the Dhols were made, but there were more than a handful of movies made not for the only reason to watch bottom lines. There were creative reasons behind these. An effort to make movies that push the envelope.

Let me try to outline some of these:

- Manorama - Six Feet Under
The finest film to hit screens this year, in my opinion. A film that doesnt take the easy route when the going gets tough. A genuinely crafted thriller brilliant direction from a debutant, Navdeep Singh.

- Chak de India
Good story and well made, though is not as novel in its narrative as Manorama.. A little over hyped in my opinion. But nevertheless, a quite departure from the formulaic Bollywood stuff.

- Johny Gaddaar
JG is a tribute to the 70s movies. An interesting story well written and well directed. It has its moments and it does NOT try to fall in the rut, when you expect it to.

- Cheeni kum
The best written dialogue of the year. Amazing conversations happen here.. and for once Amitabh is utilized. Inspite of a tacky ending, a great watch.

- Eklavya
Another Amitabh starrer.. though more prototype than Cheeni Kum. Eklavya is rightly chosen as the indian entry for the Oscars (though i admit I havnt seen Dharm), for its narrative and its compact direction. Its the closest we have to a 120 minute thriller that hollywood makes 10 every year.

- Black friday
Well, definitely the most different movie to be present, even in this list. A complete departure to any pattern you might have seen in Bollywood. Chapter based narrative and amazing tension built in key scenes. What stops this from getting in Black Friday idolatory is its rawness.. i find too many edges and uneveness to love it the way a lot of people do.

- taare zameen pe
Yet to watch it.. :-( But from the reviews and news, Aamir brings in a fresh perspective to the area of direction too. All eager to watch it.

- parzania
Yet to watch it.. But again, its a movie based on the horrors of Gujrat genocide. Actually the thought of it makes me want to skip this one.

- Life in a ...metro
Metro is pretty much the only multi-thread narrative in Bollywood that didnt suck. A little tacky at times, but certainly engrossing once you watch it past the 30 minute mark. Some inspired acting here.

- honeymoon travel pvt ltd
Another multi-narrative.. nothing breathtaking here, but finds a mention here, for the sheer bravery of this one. The story is quite different and at times does seem to go in the right direction.

- bheja fry
Yet to see it completely. Though have seen the original french title 'The Dinner Game', which this is a faithful interpretation. A small budget movie that raked in a lot of monies. A good trend, only if this one was a complete original.

- ek chalis ki last local
A take on Tarantinoish thriller. The screenplay reeks of Tarantino all the way.. though direction lets this down quite badly.

- jhoom barabar jhoom
Contrary to the popular view, I kind of liked this one. It is pretty much the first Hindi movie I can recall to have used misleading narrative. They dance too much at the end to really ruin this one though.

- gandhi my father
A great attempt actually to take on a very interesting and difficult subject. Almost succeeds. The transitions between various sequences jarred.

- blue umbrella
Vishal Bharadwaj, one of the best film makers in India today, makes a small childrens' film. Yet to watch it, but everything about it feels too interesting.

- jab we met
Imtiaz Ali comes back to write a Hum Tum type romance. Decently written, the direction could do with some work though. Some moments are very effective, some quite over the top.

- No Smoking
Anurag Kashyap finally makes his own film -ontime. Critics dump it. Yet to watch it, but have a good vibe for it. Atleast he made something different than a rip off on Hey Baby.

So, here it was, a list of titles released this year that I thought attempted something to challenge our tried and tested Bollywood formulas. Do write back which ones worked for you and which ones didnt.

So, come back again next year and hopefully there will be something fresh out here to take away.

Happy New Year 2oo8....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Toronto these days...

Well.. blogging has suffered immensely offlate. I havnt had time to think about it for ages now. And for a changes its due to work.
I am in Toronto these days.. and will be here for nearly another month..

And it isnt a vacation.. far from it. Have been working real hard all this while. And things dont look to change in the coming few days. So there it is..

Weekends have been well spent in the company of a friend who is based in Toronto these days and needless to say thats been great.. meeting him and his wife after nearly 2.5 years.

Have been taking a few snaps off and on, and have uploaded a selected few here. Do have a look and pass on all the kudos.

Actually am based just outside of Toronto in a place called Markham. Its a small suburb, which houses mostly techie companies like mine. Lots of offices and apartments.. a few malls.. and all of it predominantly chinese. A bulk of Markham's population is of chinese origin, contributing to Toronto's multi-ethnic mix.

Toronto downtown is where the action is. Till a week or two back when the weather was not as un-friendly as it is now, it was all summery and lively. The chill breeze of the last week or two has vastly impacted the same. More of the same to follow...

The place looks prohibitively expensive to me, more so coming from a weaker currency and in the facing of the rising Canadian Dollar. Now am getting used to buy stuff in dollar, but still the prohibitive-ness (if there is a word like that) persists.

Anyway, there is no real advantage to buy stuff from here. The cost difference, once huge, has shrinked to a bare few percent, and at times I have a feeling India is cheaper. So no shopping on the cards...

Toronto as a city is a modern one.. a big (bad) American (Canadian, to be politically correct) city. No real history on display, unless the last 100 years can be termed as history. It does have a dazzling sky-line, even more brilliant on a foggy night, but thats about it. Offcourse the malls are stunning.. and huge. The Eaton Centre is truly magnificient, only if can bear the sight of teeming crowds more than once.. I can, btw. And the overlooking square really comes alive late in the evening. With some live music and razzmatazz. The harbor is an area I havnt explored much, but its supposed to be a quite a place. And then there is the CN Towers. And the it is supposed to be impressive for its height. Blah.. cant care less, coming from the country of Mt Everest, flying on a Boeing.

So thats a brief update on things at this end for now. Havnt got a clue when the next one is gonna go up.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Indian Idol

Again a sizeable gap between this post and the last one. No reason to justify this wide a gap, but a long list of personal engangements that have eaten up all my time outside of work. This situation continues and no promises can be made about regular blogging for the next month or so.

In this post, I want to talk about, surprise surprise, Indian Idol. Yeah, this is a reality show that I had almost swore not to follow since it started some 3 years back. I did not watch the first and the second season of the show, though I confess having seen an episode or two of both the seasons, mostly when the remote wasnt in my control. My impression of this show was that this is more of a reality thing than a musical program. More stress on 'drama' than really on music. The show I did follow in the past years was the Zee's Sa Re Ga Ma Pa - Challenge 2005. Now, that was quite an interesting show and it did have some real awesome singers. More than a couple of them were decent enough to sing at the top level, and I believe some of them do.

This season, somehow I have followed the show quite regularly, watching most of the episodes. For one, the judges this time are interesting. Udit Narayan, for one is my fave singer and I wanted to see how would he be as a judge. Javed Akhtar is again someone who is really good with words, even when speaking about the most inane things. To offset these two, there was the squeaky Alisha Chinoy, who I have never liked. And Anu Malek or Malik or Mallik or whatever, to round up the quartet.

My original impressions are mostly accurate, the show, specially in the first few episodes WAS really about the drama and reality. The kind of 'freaks' attempting to qualify for the show was the highlight in the initial parts. Infact most times the show would spend time with participants who were soo bad they were good, than really introducing the more talented participants.

But slowly, things have turned, and its now more about the music. Out of the 13 or so who qualified, atleast 4-5 of them can sing. Now although thats sounds an abysmal ratio, it isnt. Also, the level of drama on display has been mostly in control. Offcourse the contestants do cry, specially the ousted ones, but not so much to put us off. The best part about Indian Idol is the presentation. Its really impressive.. the way things are brought together to stitch a sense of continuity. Things dont feel tattered or badly edited to make up the running time of an episode. The emcees are top class and do a great job, which is to not hog all the limelight. Also, compared to the other two music reality shows, the judges dont hog all the attention. I mean, they do have strong opinions at times, and do have rather animated arguements, its nothing compared to what folks do on SaReGaMaPa and Star Voice Of India. Also, the arguements are often cut short to keep the show running, rather than resolving which of the judges won the round.

Now, I am not trying to promote Indian Idol or extend their claim that the winner is Bharat ki khoj or blah.. all I want to say is that the show is a compelling watch, given you have the time for television. But again, let me admit I do not ever vote for the contestants, nor ever promote that. I purely take Indian Idol as just another television program and not a place to pick the next big singer.

Among the judges, the best of the lot, for me, has been Javed Akhtar. He seems unbiased and mostly provides a fair assessment, thats amazing because he isnt even a singer, unlike the other three (Anu also claims to be one!!). Udit holds on to a netrality, though he never really criticizes a contestant even after a horrible performance. Alisha, what to say, is pathetic. She has a few favorites and will praise them, however their performance may be. And that giggle, it is soo very annoying. Anu Malek tends to dominate the others. He tends to overrule the assessments of the other three, which was quite annoying initially. Slowly, thats reduced. He tends to go overboard criticizing sometimes, but atleast he has a strong opinion. Otherwise, what use is a judge who is there to praise one and all.

Coming onto the singers, finally, I think the better singers among the ladies are-
Charu, who not only has a charming personality but can also sing decently.
Deepali, not really top-class, but has a nice voice and given the right song, does well.
Ankita, again has limited range (which holds true for almost all of the folks) but has a stage presence that elevates her performace.

Among the boys-
Meiyang, the most likeable among the lot, has a smooth voice and render the new brand of music pretty well.
Emon, IMO, the best singer here. His range is the best. If Indian Idol was only a singing contest, he would win hands down.
Prashant, the dark horse. He has an amazing voice with a nice 'something' that is very soothing. He does not have much presence though. Unlikely to win.
Amit Paul, another North-East import. Great voice once again, and he easily renders the songs from the genre of Zubeen Garg and James.

So there it is. I suspect Meiyang, Emon and Abhishek will end up in the top three. Abhishek is another contestant, who is very average as far as singing goes. He does dance well and bring drama to the show. I suspect thats enought to garner votes from the junta.

Whoever wins, I doubt any of them can really make it to the top level as professional singers. They will have their 15 minutes, earn some tidy cash doing live shows and go back into oblivion. Who cares?

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Hiatus from blogging

I took an extended break from blogging, yet again. For me, I have these phases, when a lot of my focus is on a particular thing. A month or so back it was blogging, and since then it had shifted onto movies.

I have been watching movies like a zombie. Have had this uncontrolled urge to watch a lot of movies. I have been trying to watch mostly old time classics and the good ones from the last 4-5 years as well. The contemporary ones have taken a back seat for now.

The only one of the new releases I caught was the Spiderman-3, which wasnt as exciting as the last two. The fact I saw it on the giant I-max screen could not completely salvage the hash this movie was.

Onto better things now.

Casablanca: Yup, I saw it only now. It does manage to still be quite a treat after all these years. Though in my personal opinion, does it deserve ALL that hype?

Citizen Kane: Well. Again one of the most loved movies of all times. It has a layered story. The first viewing is not sufficient to extract too much from it. I need to watch it again to really understand it well. The kinda jaded visual and not so amazing audio does hamper the experience.

Psycho: Pyscho is just amazing. Its nearly 60 years old but boy, it still holds up really well today. The plot, although has been rehashed so many times since this one,  but it still chills you bigtime. Amazing acting. Hitchcock rocks.

Rear Window: Hitchcock again. I wrote about Rear Window sometime back here. Truly thrilling.

Rashomon: Akira Kurosawa's classic. Well, again a very layered and complex movie. But it is rewarding in it first viewing itself. It invented the technique of unreliable narrative that was borrowed in modern movies like: The Usual Suspects.

Mulholland Dr.: David Lynch, the Tarantino of the 80s, made this visual treat. It spins and meanders like a 'dream'. :) I want to watch it again a couple of times to truly savor it.

Jackie Brown: This was the missing Tarantino for me. Finally got the chance to watch it. Unfortunately it doesnt measure up against the other Tarantino's like Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill. A much more straightforward narrative and not as gripping as its brethren.

21 Grams: Amazing. It has a very different narrative with 3-5 minute clips all arranged non-cronologically. So the narrative goes back and forth in the story. Sounds wierd, but it actually enhances the viewing experience for this one. Very Stylish!!

V for Vendetta: This one is not so old. Quite a gripping and visual movie. An interesting plot and a great narrative.

The Illusionist: This one is a amazing. Again quite new. Starring my fave Ed Norton. This one is truly about an illusion. Another of the movie with a twist in the end. One of those kinds, that are interesting to rediscover all the apparent clues leading up to the end.

Das Experiment: Well, a little unknown German movie, not soo old. But its truly amazing and chilling. The fact that it is based on a real life experiment adds to the chill. A must watch if you like grity and edgy cinema.

The Downfall: Another German movie based on the last few days of Hitler. Great acting in this one and it does portray of how sheer madness in a dingy bunker really changed to face of the entire of Europe.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Fuzon - great listening

I first sampled Fuzon, the band, when one of my friends recommended them. Listening to some of their tracks, I found familiar a couple of them. The more I heard them, the more I like them.

They are a Pakistan based band, whose niche is fusion of classical hindustani music with Rock. And boy they are good.

Some of the best tracks by them are:

Tere Bina... jiya nahi jaaye..

Mora Piya..

Aankhon ke Saagar..

And you would definitely heard their lead vocalist 'Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan' in the hit Bollywood songs:

Mitwa (KANK)

Yeh Honsla (Dor)

So do sample their other songs as well. Their music is the kinds you want to sleep to. Melodious and soothing...

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