Metropolis by Fritz Lang (1927)

Here’s why you must watch Metropolis, a 1927 silent film made by a man named Fritz Lang:

One of the greatest films from the silent era, Metropolis was director Fritz Lang’s magnum opera of a city set in 2026 grappling with complex issues such as inflation, trans-humanism, communism, fascism and religion.

Costing nearly $200 million (in today’s money) to make, the film features some incredible set-piece sequences, particularly depicting big city life featuring gorgeous art-deco architecture and mind-blowing use of miniatures.

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The film was shot during times of painful inflation, which perhaps made it easier for Lang to cast as many as 37000 extras for a period of 310 shooting days.

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Lang’s wife was a Nazi party member, and went on to make state-approved propaganda films for Germany. Lang divorced her a year after she joined the party.

An interesting anecdote goes that Joseph Goebbels offered Fritz Lang, who was Jewish, an ‘honorary Aryan’ status after watching Metropolis. Apparently all the Nazi higher-ups were bowled over by the film. So much so that eventually Hitler offered Lang a ‘run-away’ pass to flee the country. Lang obviously took it and shifted to America.

 

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Why Mulk is a great movie

Whether you’re willing to admit it or not – Mulk will lay bare your prejudice against Muslims. If you can’t differentiate between Osama’s beard and an Indian Muslim’s beard, it demands you to check your prescription instead of making the world wear your dirty glasses.

The film opens a window into the lives of Muslims in today’s hyper-nationalist times while investigating the meaning of terrorism and how it doesn’t have only to do with religion. For instance, communal violence is terrorism and so is a drunk man murdering his wife. Any unlawful use of violence and intimidation against a civilian is terrorism.

Go watch Mulk, It is the most level-headed film of the year.

RIP Kalaignar

Two years ago, the Dravidian self-respect movement introduced me to a vision of an equal Indian society. Their story, of a collective of idealists denouncing religion for rationalism, is the gold standard for advancing social justice in our country.

Today, we have lost the last of the originals from this movement. Kalaignar Karunanidhi joins Periyar, Annadurai and MGR in the far beyond. The Dravidian quartet finally reunite.

I urge you to read everything you can about the movement. It’s a great place to begin discourse about the long pending battle for social justice in our country. For now more than ever – we need to educate, agitate and organise!

You can rip off The Tonight Show, but you can’t rip off Conan

Because it’s Conan who makes Conan great. It’s why he lends his name to the show.

Conan O’Brien is a master of improv comedy. He weighs in with the funniest possible response to every situation he finds himself in. His wit is acerbic and self-deprecating, which means it doesn’t come at the expense of the people around him. Being your joke’s biggest victim is a great asset in an increasingly sensitive world.

Apart from being a marvellous interviewer, Conan enjoys great respect and admiration from his contemporaries. It does wonders to the quality of conversation on the show.

On the flipside, Jimmy Fallon is the anti-thesis of Conan. He isn’t witty. Neither is he insightful. His greatest contribution to the show is his uproarious laughter which, despite being fake, makes his guests feel comfortable.

Jimmy’s instinctive response to something is to laugh. But it robs him of the ability to counter-question his guests, effectively breaking the volley of conversation. However, he makes up for it by moving to the next cue on his script.

Fun and games are really what keeps The Tonight Show going. The show-runners do a commendable job of identifying activities that get the best out of their guests, accomplishing through format what they don’t through the host.

The format here is the duplicable entity. It took all of one season for Abish Mathew to adapt the show to an Indian setting. He ran with it because it’s a format that’s paper-cut for him. Abish is an all-around good guy but, like Fallon, is more performer and less improv genius.

Someday, I’d like to watch a Conan-esque guy host a late night show in India. In a country with personality cults and inflated egos, we really need some deprecating humour. Now I dunno how long that’ll take. What I do know is that we’ll all know when that day comes. Because the name of the show will be the name of the host.

Maithili

When you’re a kid, your personality is malleable. It shapes itself in response to all the stuff you see around you. It draws its and bits from the people you love and hate until you get to a point where you’re your own version of a person. My grandma knew this very well. She spent a great part of her last few years tending to me, and in the process, influenced my personality.

And to say she knew a fair bit about becoming a person is an understatement. Grammy was a self-starter. Despite being married off at 16, she taught herself the arts after having five children. She eventually became a teacher in Hubli, teaching hundreds of students Kannada and the social sciences. When it was time for her to go, she had brought up five children, nine grandchildren and tended to a clueless (albeit erudite) husband.

All through her living years, I’d admired Grandpa more. He is a voracious reader and was a very influential newsman in his time. He was all I wanted to be. But after Granny’s passing, I see how hapless he is. He may have given off the aura of having his shit together, but that was because my grandma was out back, sweaty-faced and holding fort.

It has been six years since she was relieved of this mess. I am yet to meet a woman like her. I really hope to see just her one more time to tell her that I’ve made a mistake. She is all I ever want to be.

‘Unwanker’ Pitch by Hipster Fruit Communications

Dear Mr Sridhar,

Greetings from Hipster Fruit Communications, we are a cutting-edge PR firm providing rudimentary communication services in the pretext of differentiation and good vocabulary.

As we understand, you are facing what you believe is a public relations crisis, but is actually a fundamental personality deficiency. You think people think you are a wanker. While in reality you really are a wanker, no doubt about it.

Well, you’ve come to just the right people. We at Hipster Fruit Communications are wankers too, but we mask it with thick beards and Koovs shirts. The highly-acclaimed Urban Poor Socio-economic Classification was actually a long-reads feature on our company culture.

We digressed. Apologies for the digression. We don’t digress often but when we do it is to hint at how well read we are. BuzzFeed is, after all, truly the brain food of our generation.

Let’s get back. You were saying you were a wanker, right? We’re glad that’s established. Here’s what we can do about it.

We’ll call our campaign ‘Unwanker’, and you must know that we spent several brainstorm sessions finalising this name. Other highly effective campaign names that we rejected were, ‘Don’t Wank, Abhi’, ‘Wankim Chandra Chatterjee’ and ‘Pls add two more names before you send out the email’.

First up – we recommend you start saying the word ‘surreal’ more often. A research (Google inc, circa 2017) says that people who ascribe cosmic significance to every mundane detail of life are considered to be deeply sensitive individuals. Please find enclosed a sample scenario where you can use the word:

‘Dude, my chai has malai.’
‘Chai mei malai? That’s so surreal, bro.’

Next, we suggest you ditch your usual tee, denims & flip-flops for a pinstripe suit. Our gut feeling is that the Corporate Slave image is a huge leap forward from your wanker image. In fact, we wanted to suggest something more outlandish, but an intern accidentally sent that draft to another client, Mr R Singh, who has totally run with it.

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Our client, R Singh, after we accidentally emailed him the draft meant for you.

Then there are books. We cannot recommend books enough. Of course, we don’t mean you actually read them. You just need to routinely post photos of open books to all ephemeral social networking platforms like Snapchat and its knock-offs (Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger).

Finally, physical endurance is critical to destroy the wanker image. Nike Running Club is a surefire way of going about it. Download the app, go for a run and don’t forget to post a selfie with the caption, ‘#NoPainNoGain’.

We’d like to state upfront that the above ideas constitute only the initial phase of our campaign. We will be consistently monitoring your progress to suggest new ways of Unwanking in due course. This is subject to you hiring us on a retainer, of course.

Please note that we don’t recommend any lofty ideas such as patience, persistence or hard work as these techniques are time-consuming and incremental in nature. Our commitment to building shallow personas is much acclaimed in today’s instant gratification universe. We’ve always stuck to our motto of ‘Why fix something that’s already broken?’

If you like our pitch, we should definitely meet soon, preferably at a hip place like Social Offline, because who knows when it’ll stop being hip, right?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Make hay while the sun shines AF, Mr Sridhar.

Kabir Ameerwala
Designation Ninja
Hip Fru Co

An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar

I strongly feel that Karan Johar has done more for homosexuality than anyone else in this country. He has done it in his own self-deprecating, farcical manner in the movies he has made and the TV shows that he has been a part of, but he has definitely normalised the idea of talking about the topic so much so that it’s almost a living room conversation these days.

I also agree with his point of view that humour is the best way to reach the masses of this country. Indians will respond readily to comedy over a serious narrative addressing an issue.

There are many lessons for the earnest reader to learn from Karan Johar, who is perhaps one of contemporary Indian cinema’s most influential servants.

Useful Links:

An Unsuitable Boy on Goodreads

An Unsuitable Boy on Amazon