ladri di biciclette

At the moment, my brother is in Delhi.

And every time my dear elder brother (he paid me to say that, honest) comes home to Delhi, he brings with him a collection of some the most famous, influential and award winning movies of all time.

Last to last summer, it was through his collection that I discovered some great films like Casino Royale, Casablanca, The Butterfly Effect, the Bourne trilogy and Waking Life among others. There were a few Docu-films too like the Inconvenient Truth, some of Noam Chomsky's and some Richard Dawkin's; which save for Al Gore's, I didn't have either the inclination nor the patience to see. At that time, I was also introduced to Boston Legal - a series that my brother raved about.

Last time he came, which was this summer, he brought a few more classics like The Dead Poet's Society, Finding Neverland, Life is Beautiful (a favourite) and Edward Scissorhands.

So this time in keeping with the tradition, his laptop was teeming with a host of movies. I looked through the list. Dasvidaniya, The silence of the lambs, Braveheart, Ladri di Biciclette, Motorcycle Diaries etc etc. His list also included Deshdrohi which started me : I didn't expect to find that there. I quizzed him on this recent development.
'Why?' I asked pointing at the icon with a carefully chosen deranged expression on my face. This one movie, half an hour of which I had seen on cable was something that haunted my dreams.
'What? O that. It's about Raj Thackeray and all the controversy about the Non-Marathas.'
'So why do you have it?'
'Ob. I wanted to see it'
'Did you, then?' I asked, hoping against hope.
'Yesterday afternoon, yes'.
I was crushed.
' was it?'
'Good. Alright, actually'
'What?!' What was left of my hilarity had turned to incredulity.'Why??'
'You see its not meant for city people like us. You may poke fun at it, but it's essentially meant to mobilise people in Bihar and UP. having that in mind, I thought it was okay.'
I still couldn't believe him. People from UP and Bihar would *obviously* not be moved to do anything after watching something as inane as Deshdrohi. Except for maybe going and lynching the film's producer and director for caricaturing them in the form of Kamal(pronounced "Kamaaal") Khan.

I am digressing, I must get on. Well anyway, yesterday I saw a movie called Ladri di Biciclette (translated to English as the Bicycle Thieves). According to its Wikipedia article, it's an Italian neorealist film directed by Vittorio de Sica, made in 1948. When you ask me if the movie was any good, need I say more than that this was the movie which inspired Satyajit Ray to be a filmmaker; and that its No.3 on the list of films considered the greatest of all time (after Battleship Potemkin and Gold Rush).

I'm not itching to write a review because it's one of those things, which when one tries to put into words they can only fail, because like music or a painting it has to be experienced... but I've talked myself into it.

[Spoiler Warning]:If you've already seen the movie don't hesitate to continue. If you haven't, you still may, for I cannot even begin to describe the portrayal of different emotions involved in the movie.

The Bicycle Thief is a story of Antonio Ricci and his family: his wife Maria and his son Bruno. Living in an era of the Great Depression in Italy, he like hundreds of other unskilled workers of his time, is unemployed. By a draw of lots, his name is chosen for the job of sticking posters around the city. But to take the job, he must have a bicycle - he accepts because jobs were scarce and hard to come by. Yet, he goes back home saddened, for he feels he must forfeit that opportunity as he doesn't have a bicycle nor the money to buy one. His wife comes to his aid and gets him the money by pawning some bedclothes at a pawn shop. Antonio thus is able to report to work and feels he has regained his dignity; that of a man of the working class.

On his first day of sticking posters his bicycle is stolen and that too in front of his very eyes. He chases after the thief but he proves to be too fast for him and escapes. Trounced and hopeless, he wanders around town seeking help from the police and his friends but he goes home a defeated man.
The rest of the movie involves him and his son searching for the missing article. But the marrow of the movie is Bruno(played by Enzo Staiola) - his honesty is touching, his naïvety is endearing and his acting is something that commands, and is worthy of your undivided attention. The way he tries to behave like his role model - his dad, his gait, the way he styles his hair or the way he struggles with the fork and knife (I still do) when his father takes him to a restaurant as a treat, ultimately resorting to use his hands.
But Antonio Ricci (played by Lamberto Maggiorani- a real life factory worker) creates magic with his acting too. This becomes apparent in the last scene in which he is torn between stealing a bicycle himself; when he all his efforts to get back his own bicycle fail. Desperate for his livelihood, and after many moments of pacing back and forth, he goes for it. He gives Bruno money to catch the tram and tells him to wait at some place and that he would meet him there. Antonio steals a parked bicycle but he is chased, finally cornered and caught. The crowd which gathers around him start beating and abusing him.

The Bicycle Thieves.

Bruno having missed his tram sees this and runs to "save" his dad. The owner sees Bruno and lets Antonio go, deciding not to press charges.'Some examples you set for your son' he says, departing.
The movie comes to a close now, with Antonio and his son both breaking down, holding hands. Antonio realizes that he is not morally superior to the thief and Bruno learns that his Dad is not perfect.

I feel like a moron now that I've given most of the story away, but still, that must not stop absolutely anyone from seeing this film. It's amazing and it's one in a million. I have the movie (with English subtitles) if anyone needs it, I'd be happy to share this gem.



Heavy headachy head. Blocked nose. Lots of dry cough. The only fun I had last was mimicking Darth Vader's 'I am your father' line when I was being nebulized at the doctor's.

I don't know if I'm making sense. I'm seriously trying to. I hate winter. no posts for a while.

I hope I get well soon. I hope yoga helps.

The White Tiger

Finally, I got my hands on Aravind Adiga's debut novel. After a lot of weeks of waiting for it, hungrily reading excerpts wherever I could, vainly searching for a pdf all over ebook sites like esnips and going to Om Book shop twice just to be told that they were expecting it 'tomorrow' (both times)... I've got it. Luck has finally landed me with a copy and how. When least expecting it, Dad back from work, handed me a copy fishing it out from underneath several grocery items. If I had been sitting down, then I would have reeled - such was my surprise.

"Gosh were did you get it??" I asked Dad.
He smiled but didn't answer. I felt he was waiting for me to guess. I inspected it with scrutiny. No plastic bag except for a thin and slightly scarred cellophane covering. "Wait, wait! Which signal?" I asked. "Moti Bagh" he said, laughing. But his expression of mirth at once become somewhat grave. " I can't help feeling bad for Adiga. Can you imagine how much he'll lose in sales because of book piracy?" I didn't reply but just gave dad a stupid smile. I was too ecstatic to do anything but.

Probably if I was a little more sober I would have reiterated what Jeffrey archer had said when he came to India this year, which was something of this sort - "I've been told that in India, you're a good enough author only if you're books are sold at pavements and traffic signals."
But such is the tragedy of life: You don't always get to express what you would like to when the moment calls for it. What's more, it stings painfully when you get that perfect retort or witty on-liner hours later, when all the matter is done and dusted. All one can say then is 'Humph!'. So I did just that right now.

Anyway back to the book. I tore off the the cover like a hungry kid who'd just been given a bag of chips. I read the blurb and I examined the print and the cover which, quite remarkably was of a very good quality. It looked so much like the real thing that it would leave even the publishers stunned, save for a slight darkening of the back cover, probably due to the photocopying.
Whatever the hell, it looked nice.

"Tell me when you finish it, so I can read it". It was Dad's voice which brought me back to reality. Then to a sense of angst. I was in the middle of a PG Wodehouse. What use was stopping at page 73 to start and finish another book just to pick up where I had left off, having forgotten much of the already read part. To leave it all when I was in the thick of things was not an option. I never do usually leave books half-read. Unless you'd like to count "self-help" crap as books. But never fiction.

Well now I'm down to just 80 or so more pages of The girl in blue. Seems I just have to finish it. Curse you Wodehouse. Curse you and your engaging Wodehousian wit!

Bucket list

Since this is my 25th post, I felt it should be something a little special.

I never actually got to see the movie of the same name but its article on wikipedia piqued my interest on the subject of having life goals or a list of stuff to do before someone 'kicks the bucket'.
So sometime in September, I started on my own list which I plan to stick to throughout my life. I reproduce it here in all its original glory save for a few omissions that make me sound exceedingly weird or maybe pretentious.

Probably it sounds corny, but I'll risk it and say it - this is all thanks to my mom and dad who let my dreams soar, never keeping me in check. Thanks.

Well, here it is, in no particular order of importance :

1) Skydive once. [When I was littler, I wanted to a stuntman. So there]

2) Become ambidextrous. [Practice does make perfect. inspired by my bro's attempts to try and be the same, being part lefty would be just so cool.]

3) Have a PhD. [...]

4) Live to atleast 80. [I'd like to see the future, know how it's like to be behind the times]

5) Write fiction and get it published, at least once. [Always wanted to be an author]

6) Blog till I die. [Really, even if I get no hits at all]

7) Have a large padded room to do crazy stuff in, before 30. [like parkour, flips and whatnot. First evidence of insanity, there's more to come.]

8) Visit Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, Montenegro, Las Vegas among other places. [when I was small, I wanted to be like dad (don't we all). On the last count the no. of countries he's visited was tallied at 22. If I could do that, it'd be awesome]

9) Join Mensa or some other high IQ society. [it's an obsession. When I checked last, my IQ stood at 134. Not good enough, unfortunately]

10) Get over my dismal, abominable and unexplainable fear of pitch darkness. [Its true. When there's no light source in view and I'm not in bed, I just shrivel up right where I'm standing]

11) Dance on the road. Once. [the second evidence of insanity]

12) Relearn to play the violin. [I probably knew the basics when I was taught when i was in 7th or 8th, but now I've forgotten. Seeing my dusty, cobwebby violin every time I open the cupboard under the bed strengthens my resolve to pursue this. Saved for old age.]

13) Have a one on one fight. [Only if the situation calls for it. I'm mad.]

14) Save someone's life directly and knowingly. [I smile everytime i read this]

15) Run an entire marathon. Experience a runner's high [I've always liked running, but only in short bursts. A test for my endurance]

16) Drive an Aston Martin or a convertible on a cobblestoned path. [inspired by Bond. The third piece of evidence]

17) Swim in a large warm lake, clean and clear without fish in it. (admittedly inspired by an insurance company's advertisement)

18) Win an award pertaining to my field. [whatever career i choose]

19) Perform in front of a gathering of 5 or more people. [anything, sing dance. Just to end my awkwardness in front of groups]

20) Sleep for an indefinite period of time in a ambient temperature environment on clean, fresh bedding, with absolutely no one to disturb me. [I expect that would happen only if I'm hospitalized or something, and advised complete rest]

21) Have my photo in the paper atleast 3 times. [so that its not a one-off chance. childhood obsession]

22) Fly a kite on my own. [awestruck by my cousin brothers' skills, I could never hold one in the air whenever they would hand me the line.]

23) Win 40,000 in bets/shares. [no comment, either from my side or yours]

24) In a game of soccer, save 3 or more goals and have my team win [I just love being a goalie]

25) Get Zulu cloned. [That. would. be. awesome.]

26) Do something for my parents. Make them proud. [originally 'buy SUV for dad and diamond jewellery for mom']

27) Create a professional painting [well I do like playing with colours]

28) Own three or more pairs of Italian suits. [I don't know why actually]

29) Have my own page in wikipedia. [hoping..]

30) If I ever be a dad, be a good one. [much like my own]

I vow.
13/9/08, 1:43 pm
Aakash Institute

It is imperfect, it is incomplete, it will see some changes as I grow up.

But it gives my life a purpose.


Here are some of my most favourite xkcd comic strips, part of the series named Journal. For those who don't know about xkcd, read the article on wikipedia.



Thanks bro ;)