Friday, September 28, 2007

The quiet little getaway !!!

A couple of weeks back, I finally got the chance to say goodbye to work and its associated drudgery and headed to a weekend away from everything. Actually, I had planned the weekend in June itself but heavy rains in Mumbai on the last weekend in June washed away my plans. Thankfully, I could reschedule my resort bookings and hence got the holiday during the monsoon season itself. The choice of place was not easy. I had already decided to avoid Lonavala and its crowd (see one of my previous posts) and therefore, was searching for options. Then I read on the web about a place where you could go if you wanted to do nothing. That was exactly the sort of place I was looking forward to. A place where you could simply unwind and relax, a place that neither had a dozen tourist spots that you spent your time visiting nor a market that resembled any street in Mumbai during the weekend. The choice was made and I headed towards Bhandardara.

Bhandardara is a quiet little hill-station tucked away in the district of Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, about 185 kms away from Mumbai. It is actually not a hill-station in the sense that we understand it, neither does it have an array of spectacular view points nor is it a mini-town with a flourishing tourist industry. It is actually a small village whose main attraction is an artifical lake formed by the Wilson dam built by the British in the early 20th century. Having said that, the dam is quite a sight. Unfortunately, during our weekend there, the gates of the dam remain closed, thus depriving us of the apparently breath-taking sight of the water gushing through the open gates of the dam. There is a small garden very close to the dam from where you can actually feel the force of the water as it drops down the face of the dam. Apart from that one main attraction, there are a few trekking spots near Bhandardara, most famous amongst them being Mount Kalsubai (at 1646 m above sea-level, the highest peak in Maharashtra) and the Vishalgad fort (one of Shivaji’s favourite forts). But if you ask me, the real beauty of Bhandardara is actually that it does not have many distractions in the form of tourist spots. It is actually a place where one can just sit and forget about the world (the fact that cell phones do not work there makes this all the more easy ;-)). The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has built a decent, functional resort right next to the lake with each room facing the lake. There is also a good lake-side restaurant serving food that, given the lack of choices, is pretty delicious. There is also the opportunity to go on long walks besides the lake and the hills.

So if you are looking to run away from the world and have just the hills and the water for company (besides your loved one of course !!), then this is the place to go. A weekend in Bhandardara serves as an ideal dose to get people back in their best spirits and in the mood to face the world again.



How to get there: Mumbai-Bhandardara is a 185km drive, first along the Mumbai-Nasik highway and then taking a right after Igatpuri. Or you can take the train and get down at Kasara/Igatpuri and catch a bus/jeep (45 kms from Igatpuri).

To stay: MTDC is the most conveniently located resort. In addition, there is also a private resort (Anandvan resort) that is some distance from the lake.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Anything under 'Freedom of Speech' !!!

Came across this article in Rediff, Please retire, Mr Bachchan !!!. It is written by a gentleman (I assume) called Mr. K S Shekawat. Now, I regularly read movie reviews from Rediff (not that they are very great or unbiased) and I do not recollect having seen a review by this gentleman. So I cannot comment on his ability to judge good cinema or performances. But one look at the article and you can assume only one of two things: either the writer has a personal vendetta against Mr Bachchan or he was just plain drunk while writing this piece.

Now, I am no big fan of Amitabh Bachchan. I used to be at one point of time, but I agree that he has over-exposed himself, acting in all sorts of run-of-the-mill movies, that too, in special appearances here and there. And apart from Black, there have not been many recent performances to shout about. And not to mention his innumerable ads that keep popping up in every break on television. And I can hazard a guess that he has lost quite a few fans because of this. But to say that 'the cast in Nishabd had no clue how to act' and 'dance with those enunch-like steps' (I have not seen enunchs dance quite like that) is plain degrading. What is however, more appalling to see is that this article has not appeared on some personal blog (where it is perfectly entitled to be) but on a national website that is watched by millions every day. Either the Rediff editorial board (if it exists) was blissfully sleeping during this or it conveniently turned a blind eye to all this. If the latter is true, it serves to merely cement my belief that such websites have become nothing more than cronies of certain powerful celebrities. Either way, I would love to see Mr Shekawat answer all the questions posed by the irate Big B fans (see comments below the articles) and write a follow-up article. One cannot simply write anything under the garb of freedom of speech and get away with it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A New Cricket Blog...

Raghuveer Yadav says in that ad for Star Cricket, "Cricket hamari ragon main daudta hai, aur hume haq hai ek aise channel ki jo sirf is junoon ko dikhaye !!" (Cricket runs in our blood, and we are entitled to have a channel which shows only this obsession !!). Not that cricket is anywhere near my obsession, but the fact is that I, like most of the billion Indians, have an arm-chair critic view on every shot Sachin plays and every decision Dravid makes. Therefore, the thought of having a seperate blog for airing these views. Immodest as ever, I hope to express those views more coherently and logically and enhance my writing skills !!..

So, dear readers, go ahead and have a look:


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Aaaagg... bujh gayi ????

So the ignition has been done. Ram Gopal Verma has finally unleashed his fire on the audience. Originally thought of as his tribute to Ramesh Sippy's Sholay, it might have finally ended up as just another vendetta flick with an uncanny resemblence to the original masterpiece. And if the reviews are anything to go by, this aag would burn as fiercely as a candle in a storm. Four unbiased and independent reviewers have given the movie a star each. ( read Indiafm, Rediff). Even given the fact that all of the reviewers supposedly were unabashed fans of the original Sholay (who isnt ?) and therefore, were not as biased as they should have been, these are still quite damning reviews. In fact, the reviews make it seem it is RGV's worst work till date. Quite dissapointing for admirers of good cinema. RGV seems to be steadily slipping from a glorious past to a mediocre future. His early works (Shiva, Raat and Rangeela) were cases of good cinema. Infact, I still watch the initial reels from Shiva each time I catch the movie in its numerous re-runs. From those high days, it has been downhill mostly (even his last hit, Sarkar had mostly the AB Sr-Jr combination as its novelty).

But coming back to Aaaaaggg..... It still begs the question: Why go on this path in the first place ? As I see it, remaking any movie, much less 'the' definitive landmark movie in Indian Cinema (even though there are surely better movies than Sholay), is only fraught with danger. It is simply a lose-lose situation. Make a good movie which sells, and the credit goes to the supreme quality of the original. Make a bad movie, and you are crucified not just for making a bad movie but for trying to tarnish the legacy. So either ways, RGV, despite his sincere desire to pay homage to Sholay and his best efforts, would have ended up gaining nothing. Sadly for him, the latter seems to have happened. And just a few days back, Pritish Nandy jumps in the bandwagon and has purchases the rights from the Sippys to make yet another remake !!!!.. 5 years from now, the original Gabbar Singh might be asking from up there...'' Arre O Samba, Kitne Sholay the ???"