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Posts Tagged ‘satire’

Disclaimer: Two back to back reviews of Jason Reitman’s films is a mere coincidence (facilitated by the purchase of a brand new DVD player) and not a premeditated act. The reviewer, any one in her immediate family or her pet cat, are not being paid, in cash or kind, by Reitman. The reviewer claims, in her defense, that she didn’t know Thank You for Smoking was Reitman film. It had been lying with her for the longest time and the only reason it didn’t get viewed (and reviewed) earlier was its advanced format, a format the reviewer’s former, antediluvian player pouted at.

Thank You for Smoking is a satirical look at the intrigues of the PR Machinery of Big Tobacco. The story is that of Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), the spokesperson for Big Tobacco. Naylor is a glib spin doctor whose arsenal consists of four words  –  convince, confuse, deflect, bribe, and he uses them effectively.

Hell, he can make anti – tobacco lobbyists look bad while sitting next to a lung cancer patient with all the outward and pity inducing symptoms – bald pate, wheelchair bound, stick thin, sallow complexion – of the vitiating disease. The scene where he goes to his son’s school to give a talk on his job and almost gets booted out for telling seventh graders that smoking isn’t bad is too funny.

In his own words, Naylor’s job is ‘to talk’ and he does that tirelessly. He spins and spins and spins. All the time. He has few friends and none outside his line of work. The two friends that he has are all from his line of work, i.e., spin doctors for Big Gun and Big Alcohol, or, as they, self-deprecatingly call themselves, Merchants of Death. They meet regularly to vent and bitch about do-gooders.

The only genuine relationship he has is with his son which is one of mutual love and respect.

Naylor is Now conflict enters his life from various sources. A senator from Vermont, Finnistre (William Macy) is threatening to go more graphic about the warning labels on cigarette packets and the Marlboro Man is threatening to lash out at Big Tobacco for giving him cancer and teen smoking (Big Tobacco’s bread and butter) is at an all time low.

No problem. Naylor has the fix for all. However, all the good work Naylor’s done threatens to come to nought when a sexy reporter (Katie Holmes) seduces him into spilling all and a bunch of anti-tobacco lunatics kidnap and poison him with nicotine patches. Things come to when he has to make a choice about his son’s future.

The story is as much about how Naylor goes about solving these problems as about his relationship with his precocious son whom he takes along with him everywhere.

The film is hysterical. The characters are all stereotypes. All the characters are caricatures. Special mention to Rob Lowe’s Hollywood Superagent and Robert Duvall’s’ smoke-till-I-die Big Tobacco chief. There are no ‘deep’ moments, and yet it is extremely effective anti smoking film. Yes, don’t let the title fool ya. The film works because there is no preaching of any kind – subtle or overt. Everyone gets their ass taken and nobody on either side of tobacco fence gets spared.

It is not Reitman’s best film – amongst the three films I’ve seen, I would rate it after Up in the Air and Juno. But even Reitman’s worst (and debut) effort is right up there with the best of the industry.

Statutory warning: This film kills with laughter.

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I know promised to write this yesterday but then Man proposes and God disposes. Yesterday was a terribly hectic day and I got no time at all. Anyhow, here it is. Enjoy!

My next story is going to be about a vampire who’s in love with girl who’s human. The antagonist is going to be a Marathi Manoos werewolf who wants to kill the vampire because he’s a Bhayya. He wants to kill the girl because she called Mumbai Bombay to express solidarity with her lover.

How this helps:

Raj Thackeray takes affront and decides to express his outrage by vandalising bookstores and burning copies of your book in illustrative / intimidatory bonfires. Of course, this results in loss of revenue but it also guarantees publicity. Publicity that you can’t otherwise buy. Your book starts getting talked about and people who otherwise wouldn’t have bought it queue up to buy. It all works out.

Now, the flip side:

What if Raj Thackeray isn’t interested? What if the issue is not worth his time?

Enter the failsafe:

The vampire-girl duo are on the run and take shelter with some friendlies. Did I say friendlies? Not quite. You see, those friendlies are actually Jehadi Lychans who have an agenda of their own.  And their plan is to drill a hole all the way into the Earth’s core and plant a zillion megaton nuclear bomb there. Of course, you can’t drill a hole all the way to the Earth’s core but figure out a revolutionary new technology that does it anyway. For ideas, look up the film The Core.

Now, why would the Lychans shelter our protagonists? There can be two reasons. One, well, the werewolves with their heretic ideology are their enemies and any enemy of an enemy is a friend. Two, the journey to the centre of the Earth is fraught with peril and they need stooges to do it for them.

Meanwhile the Sun is flaring up out of control, and shooting tiny neutrinos into the Earth which is heating up the crust intolerably.

While our protagonists are with the Lychans, introduce a brilliant, sensitive Lychan painter who paints nude werewolf goddesses. 

Meanwhile, the werewolves catch up with the protagonists. While they are in Lychan territory, they stumble upon the painter’s works. Of course, once that happens, they do what comes naturally to them. They destroy the paintings. In the midst of the destruction, however, in a fit of petulance, the werewolf leader, an accomplished cartoonist, stops to draw some offensive sketches of the Lychan god.

How does it all end? How do I know? I haven’t thought of everything yet.

All I know is your book gets released. All castes and communities unite in calling for a universal ban on the book. Now join hands with a pirate on a revenue share basis. Now sit back and watch your bank balance grow.

Sigh. If only I could get someone to publish it. Sigh, maybe I’ll go to the Danish cartoon guys.

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I was watching the telly a couple of days ago and I happened to catch a 100 richest celebs kinda show on E!

Now, most of them have had to work for their supper but some, like Steven Spielberg get paid on just waking up! Royalties etc, you got it. And guess who was next on the list? JK Rowling. According to the show she’s worth a billion plus pounds. And the show was produced in 2007! Since then there’s been Stephanie Meyers, too.

Now, I was  filled with envy. Cross that. My new age guru will be horrified to hear that. *affirmation to self: Day after day I’m getting better and better and better. The world is filled with abundance and I live in this abundance. I deserve my good fortune and celebrate it*

Anyway, envy or motivation, call it what you will, but I decided to do something about my own, shall we say, considerably less salubrious pecuniary state. I called upon all my experience (and it is vast, spanning investment banking, adventure sports, publishing and writing) and arrived at a winning formula.

As you know, writing a novel is hard work and takes a lot out of you. Added to that is the uncertainty that it will be published. And even if it is, there’s no guarantee that it will sell, let alone be a best seller.

First things first. We have to begin the project by de-risking it. A good way to do that is to attempt a romance. According to the latest trends in fiction, romance still sells. In the wake of the Twilight series, a spate of vampire novels have hit the market but thre’s appetite for more. Well written conspiracies, spelling the doom of mankind, still work.

So, a good beginning premise would be a vampire romance set against the backdrop of an impending disaster.

Now that we’ve de-risked the model, we have to turn it into a multibagger. To do that you have to get attention. And not just the odd newspaper interview/review kinda thing. I’m talking serious, reams and reams of newsprint. The kind that’s devoted to the controversy of the day. Enter Raj Thakeray.

But. But, we can do one better. And that is, we can try and get the book banned. Based on all the above analysis, I’ve decided on what I’m going to write next. Watch out for it tomorrow. Meanwhile, do write in your thoughts on the subject.

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It’s weird how Sach ka Saamna has created such furore amongst our MPs. Apparently, the I&B Ministry has issued a notice to Star Plus, demanding the closure of the reality show. What has got our netas’ knickers in a knot is a small time actor confessing to having sex with a prostitute while his daughter sat in the room. Well, of course it did. Prostitution is illegal in India and such shows only encourage people to break the law.

(Bet they’re thinking they weren’t so hard on sex-ed in schools now, eh?)

Besides, it gives them another headache. Prostitution is like homosexuality. A giant elephant in the room no one wants to acknowledge. It’s like before the repealing of section 377, we had a host of gays admitting to being homosexuals, but not practising homosexuals. How stupid is that? It’s like me saying I’m ambidextrous but doctor, don’t cut off my right hand as I’m not a practising southpaw?

Then someone says to me, “How you know is if the thought of doing it with the same sex excites you.” Okay, so I’ve often fantasised about doing it with Raveena Tandon and Shilpa Shetty. That doesn’t make me Akshay Kumar, does it?

In another incident, some journos asked Shruti Haasan to comment on how her dad would react upon seeing her in a bikini. And she said, “Dad’s changed my diapers, why would he mind seeing me in a bikini?” How stupid is that? What is she saying? That she’s been toilet trained since then and is not likely to poop in her panties? And that, should she poop, panties are so much easier to change than diapers?

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The Shiney Ahuja episode carries on. Now more people are coming out in support of him. Someone said, “He didn’t smoke or drink.” I’m sure the maid feels better. “Gee, he raped me, but at least I didn’t get cigarette burns!”

Meanwhile, there’s much controversy over the tabling, in the house, of the Bardhan committee report on 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. The government is reluctant to table the report as is while the opposition is determined to have it tabled in the house as is. After furious negotiations, they have arrived at a compromise. Now the tabled report will be a much slimmer document and will read, “There were lapses.”

The Office of Expenditure is also being charged with lapses. There is much furore over their reinstatement of policy approving first class travel for leaders and bureaucrats. They are being accused of fiscal imprudence and gross misuse of tax payers’ money. I don’t understand what the fuss is about. They didn’t buy any ammo for the Mumbai police last year so it’s just a case of internal juggling of accounts, isn’t it?

Besides, it helps the cash-strapped Air India which hasn’t paid salaries. They did, however, spend twelve crores on crockery.  So what are they saying? “Hey, your plane is on autopilot as the pilot didn’t make it to work…but enjoy your pretty plates?”

On the subject of flying, someone, somewhere asked, “Why did Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?” Good question, I thought. You are on a suicide mission, I don’t think it matters if your brains are splattered everywhere. And then someone said, “I don’t think they were helmets. They were flight caps and goggles.” This was even stupider, I thought. What were they afraid of? People are gonna say, “Looks like he was having a bad hair day, May he rest in peace?”

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So the verdict is out. Intercourse did take place between Shiney Ahuja and the maid and the whole industry is united in its condemnation of the incident. When he heard this, Ahuja broke down and cried, “It was the biggest mistake of my life.” When asked whether he admitted to the incident, Ahuja said, “Rape? I was talking about my earlier unreasonable and uppity behavior with the industry folk.”

A mistake. Really? I wonder what gave it away. When they started bandying about terms like ‘IPC section 376’ and ‘sexual assault?’

Anurag Basu is one of rare people who have come out in support of Ahuja. Calling Ahuja not only a colleague but a close personal friend, he said that Ahuja is a good husband and father and would never do something like that. When questioned about his strong defense of the accused, Basu said, “What do you expect me to say? Look how much trouble my comments on the Big B got me into.”

Shazahn Padamsee, the new Yashraj heroine starring opposite Ranbir Kapoor in Rocket Singh, is upset that a fake FB profile of hers is doing the rounds. Hearing about this, Minisha Lamba said, “I should be so lucky!”

In a complaint lodged with the cyber crime cell, Padamsee stated that someone has created a fake profile of hers and is using it to send abusive messages to industry people. Reacting to this, Anurag Kashyap said, “Now why didn’t I think of it?”

The turmoil in the BJP continues. During their ongoing chintan baithak, internal critics have said that BJP has distanced itself from its core beliefs. Reacting to this, Advani was heard grumbling to Rajnath Singh, “After all these years who the hell remembers core issues and beliefs?”

Sushama Swaraj also said that the situation in the BJP was volcanic. However, she added, the volcano was nearly extinct and in no danger of erupting anytime soon.

The Congress is doing away with feudal titles. They have advised their members to desist from using titles like Raja, Begum, Nizam, Nawab etc. The memo was signed by Contessa Sonia Gandhi.

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So, India has crashed out of the T-20 world cup tournament. When Dhoni was asked in a post match interview if Sehwag’s absence contribute to the failure, he said, “Not as much as Jadeja’s presence…and the fact that we gambled on sending in Yuvi way down the order…and the fact that we gambled on chasing…and…To which the media asked, “Did any of your gambles pay off?” To which Mahi said, “Sure they did. With odds 4-1 in favour of India winning, I made a pile of cash.”

A new study has found that listening to ‘chilling’ music or music that ‘sends shivers down your spine’ activates the same pleasure centres in the brain as does cocaine. Reacting to this data, the music companies were reported to have complained, “Great, now they’re going to ban us too?”

A study has found that, like humans, sperm whales have baby sitters, too. So how does this work? “Hey, I need a babysitter.” “Okay, it’s going to cost you ten squid an hour.” And do the whale babysitters exhibited the same behavior as human baby sitters – talking incessantly on the phone, raiding the fridge and making out with their boyfriends?

Shiney Ahuja had been accused of rape by his eighteen year old maid. In a statement to the police, the Ahuja said, “There’s been a misunderstanding. When I said to her, kapde utaro, I meant take off the clothes from the clothesline.”

To which the maid reacted by saying, “I’ll never be able to completely explain, how you feel after something like that…worthless, violated, confused….n o t h i n g will ever be able to compensate for the degradation I feel…but, the huge out-of-court settlement will help tremendously.”

Sorry, I know that’s insensitive but I feel the whole thing sounds…fishy. She’s been alone with him for forty-five days and he attacks now? I’ll wait for the maid’s rape kit. If it does indeed confirm rape, I’ll gladly apologize.

The time is 1.00 p.m. and I just got the Mid-day. According to Mid-Day, Shiney Ahuja had apparently confessed to the crime. I apologize for the insensitive joke above. Being a woman, I know how heinous rape is. The problem is that treatment meted out to alleged perps under the rape and anti dowry laws is so ridiculous that one does feel for the man. The treatment seems to be arrest first, enquire later. It is just so easy to frame a guy! I personally know of two instances where this has happened. Hence, my earlier scepticism.

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