Tuesday, February 28, 2006

EXT. Day. A Sun-Kissed Beach.

A cool idea:

Bring Your Own Film Festival

made cooler by holding it

on the sandy beaches of Puri in the eastern Indian state of Orissa

and chilled to sub-zero by

..allowing any film in any format

But how do we know the films are any good? How's this for a guarantee -

The first edition of the festival in 2004 screened a collection of films rejected by that year's Mumbai International Film Festival 2004.

The good folks making it all possible have a blog. I like their promise: no hierarchy, no bureaucracy, no hassles....just sun sand sea and cinema...and more...

(Update: well, whaddayaknow, they have a website too.)

If I was in India, I would be Puri-bound right now.

Read more about Bring Your Own Film Festival on a website brought to you by our former colonial overlords.

Monday, February 27, 2006

What's Playin' Here

Joel and Ethan Coen's screenplay of "Blood Simple". How can anyone write this good?

Kuknoor's "Iqbal": If the underdogs are always winning, why are they still called "underdogs"? Sorry but I think it's time we have a film celebrating the rich, arrogant overdog.

The film is described by most people as "sweet". Why? "Sweet" is the equivalent of "nice" and "interesting". Just because a film lacks an antagonist (which in this case is presumably the environment, the lineage and the economic realities - holy moly, that's some antagonism!) does not by itself make it "sweet". Still, Naseer's "go to hell" dialogue was worth the $1 rental fee. And no, bouncing a cricket ball off those buffaloes is just not cool (sayeth the man who masticated almost an entire goat to a juiceless pulp over the weekend.)

Petra Haden, daughter of jazz basist Charlie Haden, doing a jaw-dropping rendition of The Who's "I Can See For Miles". It's an a capella re(de?)construction of a song I love dearly. Every guitar lick, every chord progression and every rhythm guitar strum is recreated with voices. Ms. Haden's version and the original song appear in succession on the iPod. What fun. Google around to find the mp3.

How's this for an insane, far-out idea: a Tuvan throat-singing punk band singing Motorhead and Joy Division songs. I have 2 Mp3s of Yat-Kha singing Motorhead's classic "Orgasmatron" and Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart". It is plain nuts is what it is. I dozed off with the ear-buds still in my ear and those creepy low-frequency vocals gave me nightmares all through the night. You can download those 2 amazing covers here. Listen now, thank me later.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Slow Down, Gandhi

Not posting any mp3s here, so wontcha Google for "Sage Francis" or "Slow Down, Gandhi", scroll down to CNET's music.download.com page (or Amazon) and get the mp3. Angry political rap - just the way I like it.

Now it's whistle blower vs. the pistol holder;
Case dismissed, they'll lock you up and throw away the key witness
Justice is the whim of a judge, check his chest density
It leaves much room for error, and the rest left to destiny
Slow down, Gandhi, you're killin' 'em

A Punk Grows In Mansoorpur

This here is a picture of a punk.

(image adroitly pinched from BBC)

Hold that chuckle. Hacking, electronics, DJing...a more pure practitioner of the punk ethic cannot be found in American cities, leave alone a poor village in Bihar. Say hello to Raghav Mahato.

"Good morning! Welcome to Raghav FM Mansoorpur 1! Now listen to your favourite songs," announces anchor and friend Sambhu into a sellotape-plastered microphone surrounded by racks of local music tapes.

For the next 12 hours, Raghav Mahato's outback FM radio station plays films songs and broadcasts public interest messages on HIV and polio, and even snappy local news, including alerts on missing children and the opening of local shops.

Raghav and his friend run the indigenous radio station out of Raghav's thatched-roof Priya Electronics Shop.

The place is a cramped $4-a-month rented shack stacked with music tapes and rusty electrical appliances which doubles up as Raghav's radio station and repair shop.

After I read this piece of news on BBC, I felt like playing "London Calling" loud enough to make the plaster on the walls start to peel.

Goodbye CBGB, hello Mansoorpur!

Now would be a great time to quote some Rage Against The Machine lyrics. Like this one, maybe?

Lights out, Guerrilla Radio!
Turn that shit up
It has to start somewhere It has to start sometime
What better place than here, what better time than now?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It's All About Connections

Do you ever stay up at nights, thinking of ways of stumping - no, humiliating - your rock-snob friends? I do. As a true-blue rock-snob myself, I can't stand appearing less informed than my snob-peers.

One of the best ways of acheiving total stumpdom is to play "connect the bands". As an example, connect Steely Dan to Rolling Stones. One's from the 70s, the other from the Pleistocene era, one's American, the other British....no connection, you say?


Jeff Baxter played with Steely Dan. Baxter also played in "Four on the Floor", whose bassist was Glenn Hughes. Hughes played bass on Deep Purple's "Burn" (he's also that thin-voiced "bridge" singer on the incendiary title song). Blackmore was the lead guitarist on the album, and was also the lead (naturally) for the Ritchie Blackmore Orchestra, in which the piano/keyboards duties were handled by Nicky Hopkins who once played with the Jeff Beck Group (if you don't know who Nicky Hopkins is, please, take up some other hobby.) Who was the guitarist in that band? Ron Wood. Which other band did Wood play in? Elementary, my dear rock-snob...

Since most mortals are not blessed with an in-built encyclopedia, there's this cool site that lets you connect two random bands.

Now, don't *ever* lose a quiz because you couldn't connect Elvis Presley to Cream (c'mon...that one's way too easy!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Speaking Of Courage...

Tarun Jacob blogs about his fight against lymphoma.

(Found on Dilip D'Souza's blog.)


No, these are not bootlegs of Shakespeare reading his sonnets and plays but mp3s of writer Mark Anderson (who wrote "Shakespeare By Another Name") talking about the characters and stories in his book.

Very cool audio files, whether or not you are interested in the "Who was Shakespeare" debate.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Counting Animals Deadlier Than Sheep

Orissa Government needs your help in conducting a wildlife census. But don't be ordering that safari suit yet.

First of all, you must be a WILEE. A "Wildlife Enthusiast and Expert". Preferably, a rich WILEE. Someone in Orissa government obviously worships Chuck Jones.

Note: If you are this Wile E, you are automatically disqualified. Also, please stay away from canyons and cliffs.

Is this a dangerous mission? Here's a blood-chilling excerpt from the website:

...provide an indemnity bond( in the format prescribed) absolving the organizers from any liability on account of any injury through unforeseen attacks by wild animals, death, illness or disease that might follow the tour even though the participation in the tour itself may not be attributable to such a happening

In other words, stay out of the kitchen if you can't take the heat.

All I want to know is, what are the chances of running into a Bo "Jane" Derek in them jungles?

(found on Hindustan Times, via Samachar.com)

A Tail of Kafkaesque Proportions

So this alleged Bollywood actress allegedly had a dog NOT named Tommy and this reporter wrote about it and someone allegedly got offended and complained to the police and the newspaper and the reporter apologized for reporting the alleged name incorrectly and the reporter got arrested.


Remember when "Tommy" was the only name possible for a dog in India? (Imagine my disappointment upon first hearing The Who's "Tommy". It's about a deaf, dumb and blind kid who plays pinball?)

Tommy is simple, doglike and more importantly, un-Indian. Sure, "Tommy" may offend the Thomases of this world, but we don't care for them Christian saints.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Dream, A Vacuum, A Scheme (And A Sofa)

Alok's post about John Gray's book - no, not THAT John Gray! - reminds me of "Alvy Singer" not doing his homework because the universe was constantly expanding and the world was going to come to an end ("but that's the universe, Alvy...we live in Brooklyn", Alvy's mother tells him.)

If indeed we are doomed and if all our belief systems are merely a comfort blanket, the question that naturally follows is this: what does this mean? If everything - faith, ethics, science, progress - are just illusions, what is the point of all this?

You know what rankles me about this philosophy? No, not the nihilism or the terrifying meaninglessness of our petty lives. It's being told that our samsara is phony baloney after I plonk down so much money to furnish our - what else - living room.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My Thoughts Are Scattered

and they're cloudy...
These clouds stick to the sky
Like floating questions, why?
And they linger there to die.
They don't know where they are going, and, my friend, neither do I.

It was a searing-hot afternoon. We took shelter under a shady tree. There were four of us and a very big chillum. The rough landscape set the afternoon's "agenda". In that semi-wilderness, there was no people-watching to be done, no rivers or lakes to be explored. So we sat and looked at clouds. Camels, dogs and dragons were the recurring characters in this cosmic cartoon show. Somebody saw Ravan's head. I pointed out a couple of oddly-shaped buses; abstract patterns stolen from a smashed kaleidoscope. One of us remembered a Beetle Bailey comic strip in which Beetle sees a cloud in the shape of General Halftrack chasing him.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to know just how did we get through all these years without a Cloud Appreciation Society? Terrific pictures on the site. Courtesy Yahoo Picks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

4+3: Liverpool, Via The Five Boroughs

What a concept. Listen to the songs before this *really cool* mashup goes offline. (Thanks, BoingBoing! Link on the right.)

Speaking of really cool stuff going offline, what happened to the rocking Beatallica? Ha. I see their site is up again. I love that stuff.

Next time my nephew wants to explore classic rock and classic hip-hop, this is what he's getting: The Beastles.

Rififi, Or The Rough And Tumble

Tony The Stephanois, very pissed at the news about the remake of Rififi. (Image swiped, in a daring heist, from Criterion's vault)

When I learned that "they" are remaking Jules Dassin's 1955 classic "Rififi" (or, "du Rififi Chez Les Hommes", to be more precise), I felt this strong urge to start one of those online petitions, stating in no uncertain terms: "Dear Producers of Rififi 2007, if you so much as even think of re-enacting or changing that 30-minute sequence, may you be stricken by raging, painful, incurable gum diseases".

People want to protest the appearance of their prophets in cartoons? I've got a *much* better cause: I want to protest the systematic massacre of my favorite films.

"Rififi", Paris Noir if you want to call it that, is a great film by the director who gave us London noir, "Night and the City". It's both a procedural/heist movie as well as a noir film, and that's only one of its distinguishing points. Heist films appeal to the geek in us: the methodology behind the crime, its precision, is very important to the viewer. Noir, on the other hand, is usually about ambiguities - both in human character and relationships.

Now, caper films must necessarily portray the crooks in a flattering light (e.g."Ocean's 11"). How else could we forgive their crime? This also means caper films must have a happy resolution, i.e., the crooks steal the diamonds/cash and live happily ever after.

What if a caper film took a contrarian approach and led them to the more believable and tragic conclusion of their criminal career? That would be the story of "Rififi".

The question is, will the hooked-on-happy-ending audiences of today accept such an end?

See the film and you will know why Truffaut called it "the best noir film" he had seen.

Monday, February 13, 2006

I'm Tremulous! Stop Following Me!

This word has been popping up all over the place. In one week, it has showed up in an album review, in a newspaper article and in a Dumas novel ("One Thousand And One Ghosts "- man that Dumas could spin a yarn.)

Very strange.

Snowstorm '06

Because I want to be the last human being on the planet without a digital camera (and the very last patron of films and film-processing labs), I cannot bring you any pictures of the dazzling, blinding whiteout that surrounds home and office. So, here is the "one-five hundredth" you want to see: twenty inches.

The wife wakes up, pulls up the blinds on a little window that overlooks a large ice-covered field and a calm, frozen pond, and goes "hwwooooh!".

By some peculiar timing, PBS was running that docu on Richard Proenneke.

Even though the schadenfreude-loving Weather Channel tells me this is a bad, bad storm, I somehow remember Blizzard '03 as being much worse. While we didn't have to battle the elements that Mr. Proenneke did, we were stranded for 2 days without a single drop of alcohol in the house.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Iyengar Raste, Atma Chow Chow and Jirle Appa

This won't make much sense if you don't know the language, but band names translated (in some cases, creatively interpreted) into Kannada is just the silly stuff you want to read on a Friday.

Radiohead's "Akashvani Thale" is such a great, weird name for a great, weird band. The Who re-named "Yaaru?" creates a sense of mystery. Uncle Cracker's "Vadiyo Mama" sounds rowdy and wicked and how about a very simple, life-affirming "Howdu", for Yes? Classic.

But A-Ha's name in Kannada is the one that clinched the deal for me. Look it up.

Thanks to blogger K.J. Simha for this list!

Heart Of Gold On A Silver Screen

An excellent interview with Neil Young aired on Fresh Air last night.

His concert in Nashville is the subject of a new Jonathan Demme documentary. Listen to him analyzing his songwriting process, particularly when he talks about a voice-mail from Jim Jarmusch. Also, check out the close of the interview for a very funny joke by Neil.

While the performance has been highly praised by music critics, the film itself has got great reviews, all pointing out that Demme has spared them the rock-doc cliches. You know those cliches, right? Cutaway to the audience during a solo or a chorus, backstage drama, camera set up high above the crowd, standard-issue lighting and color, frenetic camera movement and fast edits...(btw, Martin Scorsese practically defined this genre with "Woodstock" and "The Last Waltz")

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Two Englishmen In Bombay

These two musicians' stopped over at Bombay many, many winters ago, when they were still at the peak of their musical prowess. They loved the Maximum City so much, they decided to re-work and record some of their music in a studio in Bombay along with a local orchestra.

One of those songs came from an album much praised and loved for its "return to roots" charm (and that one scorching rocker of a song.) The other song, it came from the b-side of an album that still inspires ridiculous levels of fan-worship, nearly 35 years after its release.

So who are we talking about?

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, playing in 1972 in the Bombay's EMI Studios with the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. (The BSO was founded by one Mr. Mehli Mehta.)

And the two songs? "Friends" (from "III") and "Four Sticks" (from "IV"). If you play the guitar, read about "Four Sticks" and feel better. It's not the easiest song to play, not even if you are playing solo.

You can find a short clip of "Friends" on this page. That's the BSO backing them.

An interview with Plant in which he talks about Middle Eastern and Indian influences on Zeppelin's music.

BTW, here's a source to get those bootlegs. (images below courtesy of the right-click and the BigO Magazine)

Ye Olde India

The Beeb has a cool little collection of pictures of the India that was. Go to the right-most column and click on the little box titled "Capturing History". (The site won't let me do a direct link to the slideshow.)

My favorites: Brown Girl on the dead leopard, White Boy getting a pedicure (and Brits wonder why people find them, er, effete?), India's answer to the Rolling Stones (that's Brian Jones with a sitar) and a grand shot of Grand Trunk Road. (Wow, just look at that picture. I thought you could see so many horses only in a Cecil B. DeMille movie!)

These pics are taken from a forthcoming book titled "India Then and Now". Anyone seen it yet? Some reviews.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Yawning Man Covered in Cobweb

Why, just the other day I was thinking about Uriah Heep, and this morning I learned from a friend in Bangalore that the band's playing in Bangalore and Bombay.

Sure, Heep was never the top of the heap, but their appeal (and their place in British hard-rock geneology) cannot be denied.

For me, a lot of that appeal was the result of this picture:

It's not a very subtle cover. It lacks the gloomy, surreal, fantasy-soaked look that was so popular on rock albums in the mid-70s (usually done by people like Hipgnosis or Roger Dean, who designed Heep's "Demons and Wizards" cover.) But it's creepy in a very raw, direct way.

Hope some bloggers write about this gig.

BTW, anyone here old enough to remember "Millenium", a pretty tight hard-rock act from Bangalore, playing Uriah Heep's "July Morning"?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

And So It Begins

Landings and arrivals really matter to us. Like the landing on Normandy Beach or the landing on the Moon.

February 7, 1964 was the day the Beatles landed at JFK. So much has been said (and written) by so many about the event. I still enjoy looking at pictures from that special moment in pop history. This is rock's adolescence in full bloom.

Then there's the famous press conference, where the band snaps back at reporters and fans with Marx Brothers' like wit. When I read some of the Q&A, I wonder, were the seeds of 1968/69 already sown at this point? (This fanboy moment brought to you courtesy Apple Records.)

NPR has an entire page devoted to this much-remembered day. Scroll down to the section titled "The Beatles' Arrival" to see a video clip of Pan Am's most famous passengers alighting from the aircraft.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Time, It Needs Time

The Blogger Formerly Known as Ventilator Blues But Now Known As Cosmic Elevator, a dyed-in-the-wool jam music aficionado if ever there was one, has put up a cool link to the Alex Skolnick Trio performing a very chilled, jazz-inflected version of the Scorpions' "Still Loving You". It's a 20MB download, hence the dual-purpose title for the post :)

Show me a man who has not shed bitter tears into a mug of warm, stale beer with "Still Loving You" playing in the background and I will show you a man with no heart.

VB, thanks for putting up the totally diggable audio links.

Still Rock and Roll To Me

The Village Voice reviews Billy Joel's new compilation album. A one-line summary of the review would be "critic tears Billy Joel a new one".

What has poor Billy done to deserve it? Sure, there are times when I will - I must - flip the dial if a Billy Joel song comes on. I simply cannot listen to "Piano Man" or "Captain Jack". Especially the former - the very words "it's nine o'clock on a saturday.." make me want to drive my car into a bar and repeatedly run over the real estate novelist.

But there are also times when I am totally drawn by the melody of some of his songs. Could this "melodicism" be the reason why rock critics are distrustful of his songs, as if to say, if the songs are so tuneful, how could it be intelligent music?

OK, so "Honesty" or "Pressure" may not be anthems, but must every song be an anthem for it to be enjoyed? What's wrong with a good old-fashioned tune every now and then?

Portrait of The Artist As A Scared Drawing Student

Arun at Cre8iveIgnition has a post for those among us who think they cannot draw and paint.

I am one of them.

Drawing, the dreaded subject as taught in elementary (and middle school, I think?), was a nightmare. I vividly recall the sense of panic that would creep up on me when Mrs Gupta, the art teacher, walked into class. She would ask us to get our pencils, brushes, paint-boxes and crayons ready. Soon, the little Rembrandts would be off, drawing a bright pink lotus flower or a brown hut, tucked between lime-green hills, with a winding driveway and a bright yellow sun.

We were supposed to get basic art education from that class. I think most of us only learnt about shame and encountered, for the first time, this concept of "failure". If your "bench-mate" scored a 90 and you scored just a pathetic 35, that was failure! Some of us - and I am a proud, card-carrying member of this group - figured out that drawing class was a good time for pranks and jokes. And because I studied in the Dark Ages when a teacher was not afraid of going medieval on one's ass, drawing lessons were torture. It was a class filled with rules and ridicule, comparison and criticism, failure and punishment. (Now would be a good time to remember Dickens.)

When I came to ninth standard, I learnt that biology labwork required drawing skills. But by this time, I was so sure I couldn't draw, my biology "journals" would always remain incomplete. Yes, I was the friendly, neighborhood kid forever looking for journals with tracing paper to finish those darned submissions. Then when I joined college, I was pretty sure electrical engineering wouldn't require *any* drawing skills. I was not quite right. With at least four courses in engineering graphics, it was back to tracing paper (and other advanced reprographics techniques such as "GT".)

Well, school and college came and went, I did not grow up to be a painter or a graphics artist, but I was - and still am - fascinated by visual arts. So a couple of years ago, I found the well-known Betty Edwards book in the public library and tried out some of the exercises. Just for shits and giggles, you know?

The results were shocking.

So they wouldn't hang me in the gallows of the Guggenheim, but these drawings weren't so bad as to merit a 35 out of 100. A 37 or a 38, maybe?

Now, this isn't about drawing or poor Mrs Gupta or some angry rejection of the Indian Education System As Conceived By the Overlords at CBSE. This is really about beliefs that we "know" are an integral and inherent part of our identities.

Don't we all know people who are, as Stephen Stills put it so eloquently during CSNY's Woodstock performance, "scared shitless" - of Mathematics, Sciences, Languages, whatever? Now I wonder, did all these people ever give themselves a second chance? Did they ever try to question their beliefs?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Thursday, February 02, 2006

What's Playin' Here

Greg Pak's "Robot Stories" - a collection of four short films, all based around the theme of robots (at least on the surface.)

Of the four, I thought the first and the last films ("My Robot Baby" and "Clay") were so-so. The films in the middle - "Robot Fixer" and "Machine Love" were very satisfying. "Machine Love" especially, very creepy-sad in its execution and storyline.

When a futuristic film with the word "Robot" in its title opens with an acoustic guitar-driven country/folk song, you know you are in for a fun ride :)

"From A Basement on the Hill", by Elliott Smith - "Basement" is Elliott Smith's last album and was released posthumously in 2004. The year Elliott Smith died (in 2003, apparently of suicide, though the cause of the death is not firmly established yet), a dear friend of mine also died under tragic circumstances. What must go through people's minds when they contemplate suicide?

a dying man in a living room
whose shadow paces the floor
who'll take you out in the open door
this is not my life
it's just a fond farewell to a friend

(from "Fond Farewell")

When Smith sings the line "..who couldn't get things right", it still chokes me up.

A sidenote: When listening to Fond Farewell's chorus, I realized, perhaps consciously for the first time, how harmonies color the tone of the lyrics. This song's chorus already sounds desperate and tragic. But the harmony (don't have a guitar handy to confirm if the singer is singing seconds or fifths there) just pushes the pain in those words and tune to another level. Now that's the art and craft of songwriting.

Phil, Meet Basant

6 more weeks of winter (what winter?), says the Rodent Punk from Punxsutawney. I know, now you will want to rent the film. You don't need a link to the film, do you?

Neha at Within/Without has a wonderful post about "Basant". What a sight Basant is. I remember most the sudden breakout of tiny white flowers on those shiny-green mango trees. And those goddamn flies that would emerge in the BILLIONS if you so much as walked within a 2-mile radius of a mango tree.

A link to how Basant is celebrated in Lahore.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

15 Park Avenue: But There's Nobody Home

To me, Aparna Sen represents a certain standard (and filmic pedigree), so no matter what, I always try to watch her films. In the last 25 years, she has directed 7 films, of which I've seen 4. The ones that made an impression on me are her directorial debut and her two most recent films. They are not "great" films (IMHO), but they all feature original stories and unique characters. Two reasons good enough for a dekko, right?

(BTW, there's a shorter review of the film by Uma here.)

I remember reading a review of the Beatles' White Album which appeared in a 1968 issue of Time magazine. One sentence from that review has remained in my memory for nearly 20 years. It said that album was a showcase of the Beatles' "best abilities and worst tendencies".

Best abilities and worst tendencies is an apt summation of "15 Park Avenue" too.

About the best abilities first. Aparna Sen chooses under-explored and emotionally rich subjects. She writes female characters very well and extracts a solid performance from the lead character. Konkona Sen's performance here is just damn good. Technically, her films are above-average in execution. As an example, her use of background music and lighting in "15 Park Avenue" is far, far better than Hindi films cursed with ten times the budget.

She also seems to have a knack for picking memorable titles. "15 Park Avenue", a throwback to the specific-ness of "36 Chowringhee" is meant to evoke a certain mood and create curiosity in the viewer's mind. Now, Park Avenue is home to Manhattan's rich and the powerful. But in the film, we learn right in the very promising opening that the story unfolds in Calcutta. We learn that there may not even be a "real" place called 15 Park Avenue. Right there, the film hooks you.

We also see Mithee's frightening world. It is a world filled with voices, invisible children and paranoia. Her world - her mother, her older sister and a maid - are all impacted on a daily basis by the illness, but it is mostly her sister, played with (the expected) artistry by Shabana Azmi, who deals most directly with the challenges. The household, (without a single male character, btw), does what it can as it struggles with significant tangible and emotional challenges. If you've seen a real-life family in such a situation, and we all have, you will find the depiction both painful and realistic.

The director's worst tendencies start showing up at this point and the story goes into a downward spiral, just like poor Mithee. All characters are flat, one-note characters. I mean that literally - the English dialogue doesn't help one bit. This was a problem in her previous outing also. But unlike that film, the story-telling in "15 Park Avenue" is haphazard and some aspects of it are outright questionable.

After you've established Mithee's terrifying world and after you've established her family's troubles, what remains? There's got to be *something* for all those characters to do, right?

Enter the Old Flame. The Old Flame - played with frozen plasticity by Rahul Bose - was once in love with Mithee. They were even engaged. But a life-changing event (more about this later) in Mithee's life forces him to re-examine his relationship. In other words, he vamooses. His return into Mithee's life (or the other way around) is helped by a coincidence. Coincidences are a sure sign of narrative problem. Anyway, the coincidence here is that both Mithee and Old Flame land up in Bhutan at the same time. She, with her family and he, with his family - an insecure, jealous wife and two kids. I am thinking of a word that starts with M and ends in "elodrama"...

This hill-station part of the story is loose and scripted poorly beyond belief.

First of all, Mithee is missing from the screen for a hefty portion of this act. Then Old Flame and his wife's conversation is cliched to the point that I was doing a MST3000 with the film. That couple's love-making scene shot in blue actually ends in a cigarette being lit - COME ON!!! How many times must we watch a love-making scene cut to a face-shot of the couple draped in that infamous L-shaped bedsheet?

There's some terrible on-the-nose dialogue between some new characters about this holy man who hears voices and there's a little love triangle thrown in for dramatic tension and Mithee and Old Flame walk around and talk - just what the hell was going on there?

In short, the Bhutan act killed the pace of the film completely.

The really odd thing about the film is that in spite of these shortcomings, the film has a very touching end. The closing long-shot on a house is unnerving, almost like a scene from a horror film.

A terrific opening and a powerful close - maybe this should have been an excellent 20-minute short film, who knows?

Now about that life-changing event (a rape) in Mithee's life. I found it plain gratuitous. You don't use a plot device like that so lightly. The two purposes served by that rape sequence could be to

a) show the viewer that assault and abuse could trigger schizophrenia (but not be the root-cause), and
b) provide a reason for Rahul Bose's character to exist in the story. If he doesn't run away from her, there's no third act.

In other words, the chilling sequence is used for some pedagogy (nothing wrong in that) and worse, for solving structural issues in the story. Watch the film without that sequence and nothing will be out of place. In other words, completely gratuitous.

Still, "15 Park Avenue" offers small pleasures. The opening audio collage of traffic is one. Then there's a homeless, mentally-ill woman living outside Mithee's home. This cameo character offers a heartrending contrast to the upper middle-class Mithee. Who cares for the mentally ill on the streets? Who even offers them sympathy, let alone hospitalization and a getaway in Bhutan?

Watch David Cronenberg's 2002 film "Spider" for a really scary look at schizophrenia and see how the same subject is handled by him in a different genre. It is a really disturbing film.