Monday, January 18, 2016

Yes, Your Highness

Another translation of Bongpen's work:


- Dad
- Yes, Your Highness
- Serious question.
- OK. Ask Bilu.
- Cancer it is then?
- Yes.
- Hundred percent?
- Hundred percent.
- Escape route?
- Nada.
- Third stage?
- Even third opinion confirmed that.
- So, how much longer?
- Six months. Maybe it can be stretched to ten.
- Are you nervous?
- My body is going limp! Obviously.
- Obviously.
- Ten months, That would mean the end of your higher secondary exams.
- Right now your concern is my higher secondary exam?
- Had just about managed to get rid of your nervousness around physics. Alas.
- Even if you are not there I won't be nervous about physics.
- Maybe we'll touch January. Dude, please don't drop the exams.
- Dad, have never seen you fret so much over exams before.
- Not quite, but you see a dead father's concerns know no limit.
- Concerns after death?
- Have started believing in the supernatural since the biopsy reports arrived.
- Should I believe in spirits?
- No. Never.
- Then why are you doing so?
- It'll be your winter, and ten months for me.
- Winter is coming, for me?
- Oh, no, Didn't mean like that.
- OK. Anyway, trust me, I won't drop out of school.
- Good. With what we have in the savings account, every year is still very precious.
- Precious. Won't forget that.
- See, for the next six to ten months there will be a picnic going on in the hospital.
- Hmm.
- Look after Kamala. She's very perceptive. You hardly get to see such sensitive cats nowadays.
- Hmmm.
- So, in another year you will be done with school. Then what? Engineering?
- Statistics. Till Masters.
- That's my son! So, one plus three plus two. Six year. We will manage. I am making necessary arrangement so that the second floor can be ready to rent.
- Hmm..Are you smoking?
- I am done for boss, nothing matters anymore son. Does she know?
- She?
- Playing dumb with your Dad! Ishaani.
- Oh! No, I mean..
- She's a good girl. But listen Bilu. You're about to get the combination of an empty house and puberty. Don't forget about your family's respect. Although the girl is nice. No worry. 
- You feel worried about me?
- It is my duty to warn you.
- Oh please.
- Bilu.
- Hmm...
- Speak to you Mom. Call her. At least once a day.
- Hmm...
- Err...will you stay with your Mom?
- I don't get along with Mr. Aniket. You know that.
- Aniket is a gentleman Bilu.
- Dad.
- Son. As I said, a million worries for the Dad who's about to die.
- Mom was crying today in the hospital.
- Does love and romance disappear due to a divorce? Is it possible?
- No.
- Hmm...Sorry.
- Why sorry?
- For the divorce. I am sorry.
- Mom had left.
- I couldn't manage. Your Mom is a very special woman.
- Nobody can cook Koi fish curry like you. Not even Mom.
- Heh! There is a slight twist to the recipe. Will jot it down in your poems diary.
- Dad.
- Yes, Your Highness.
- It's not good.
- Not at all. Your Dad won't be there anymore Bilu. I feel terrible for you.
- Of course.
- Don't let the terror of physics relapse.
- I won't drop out of school will call Mom everyday, won't invite Ishaani home.
- Why not? You will absolutely call her home. You won't do it on the sly, but openly.
- Dad
- Yes, Your Highness.
Mom was weeping uncontrollably today. Have never seen her cry like this.
- Bilu.
- Yes Boss.
- After six to ten months, please tell your Mom, I too felt like crying for her. Uncontrollably.
- Hmm. That's not good.
- Not at all Your Highness. Not at all.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Mr. Jagannath's Return (Translation)

Starting off the year by translating one of my favourite contemporary writers (and a very close friend) - Tanmay Mukherjee. If you enjoy reading this you may want to follow the BongPen (English) Facebook page where I try and translate some of his more 'translatable' work.


Mr. Jagannath heaved a sigh after lighting up the cigarette from the spark at the end of the hanging rope at the Paan shop. As he put the change from the Paanwallah into his shirt pocket, he felt one last piece of that ginger candy he had purchased in the train. It's very dear to Meenu. This has been a bother since he died. The moment he sees something that Meenu loves, he can't stop tearing up.
Today marks the five year anniversary of that fateful day. Five years. Meenu has grown up so much since then. About to become a college graduate. Thankfully he gets to meet her at least for this one day a year. She has to go through so much trouble to come and meet him. He wondered about the stories she has to cook up at home for these visits. However, they can't meet anywhere besides this spot. This exact spot. Right next to Nikhil's paan shop. Sharp at 5:32 in the evening. When he had to go under the bus. In just the same way he had lit up is cigarette and was feeling for the ginger candy as he had set off to cross the road. The mild winter seemed like the perfect time to get a bit distracted. But Mr. Jagannath couldn't imagine the bus would just roll over him. What a horrible incident.
Since the following year after that he has been meeting Meenu at the exact same time at the same place. For some reason only Meenu can catch him at right this time, and Mr. Jagannath is grateful for that. They also get to chat a bit. That candy has been sitting inside the pocket for so many years, never ended up giving it to Meenu.
- Baba
- You came sweetheart? I thought....
- That I won't come?
- No, I mean...
- It's one day a year, I won't come to meet you?
- Meenu. How are your studies coming along?
- First year results are out. First class.
- First class? Fantastic stuff! Oh, how's your mother doing?
- Not too good. Keeps sobbing. But you don't start crying now!
- When did ghosts start to cry. Meenu, dear Meenu, you please don't cry. Such a short meeting. Please don't cry my child.
- When did ghosts' daughters start to cry?
- Ha ha ha
- Ha ha! Want a candy?
Gradually Mr. Jagannath started to fade and merged into the darkness.
- Mrs. Jagannth. The Taxi is waiting. Mrs. Jagannath!
- Hmm...
- The taxi. It is waiting.
- Oh. It is here?
- Yes Ma'am.
- They will tear down this house to build a flat, isn't it Kanai?
- Come, let's go Ma'am. It's getting dark.
- Had moved in here twenty five years back, right after my wedding.
- I know, I know. Come, let's go.
- There are so many memories tied to this place. Can you leave the memories just by leaving the house?
- Come, come.
- Of course I have to go. How will I live here anymore? The father came under the bus, and that same day the daughter had to hang herself. She didn't think of her mother even once. The house used to ring with her energy all day, those little made up stories and naughtiness. And all those pranks by the father and daughter. Where do I leave all these memories and go, Kanai?
- Ma'am, the taxi is waiting for a while now. Come, let's go.
Original (By Tanmay Mukherjee):

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Movies Roundup 2015

Did you know new year resolutions come true? Shocking, isn't it? After last year's 38% out of the 100 movies resolution, I had toned down the goal to 50 in 2015. This being the year when our first child was born even 50 seemed like a stretch till something unexpected happened. We installed a treadmill and a TV in front of it. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Very excited to have watched 53 movies (106% to target) with 26 of them actually current releases. What did take a hit was the number of theater visits, down to five through the year, three before the baby (ironically, Baby being the last) and two while the baby was vacationing with her mother. The silver lining of the gruelling 24 hour flights to India is the vast selection of new releases, so caught up on eight during a round trip, and also picked up some original DVDs (sorry Pirate Bay, it was me, not you) during the trip. Being foolish and brave again and taking up the 2016 target back to 100. You can read more about the #100moviepact here

Quality wise this has been a pretty good year, significantly up from 2014 and that too in spite of a stricter rating scale. Just like in 20092010201120122013, & 2014 I made a quick note of my initial thoughts and a rating on 10, purely on how much I enjoyed the movies. As always, very keen to hear your thoughts and exchange some notes. Welcome 2016 and let the show go on!

Starting with the popular stats first, only for movies released the same year.

Year     # Seen    Hindi:English:Bangla   Top Rating  Avg. Rating
2007     32               22:10:0                           9.0             5.78
2008     30               23:7:0                             8.5             6.35
2009     24               18:6:0                             9.0             6.85
2010     25               16:9:0                             8.5             6.62
2011     22               15:6:1                             8.5             6.77
2012     28               12:11:5                           9.0             7.33
2013     28               14:14:0                           9.0             7.12
2014     16               10:6:0                             9.0             6.16 
2015     26               20:6:0                             9.0             6.55

20 Bollywood releases in a year for the first time since 2008, boom, baby! As we have a fair number of Bollywood movies to choose from, but only 6 English, we shall do a Top 5 Bollywood and a Top 3 Hollywood selection here. Criterion being the movie must have released in 2015 or I watched it in a theater in 2015 (the latter is important as otherwise some December movies fall through the cracks between the years). The full list of all 53 movies with ratings will be available below, as well as the tweet reviews of all current movies.

We will go the Miss Universe way, starting from the lower ranks up to the top. Only if there are any Colombian movies involved, please assume it's in the list due to an error. All pictures are courtsey IMDb.

English Movies

3. The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game - A brilliant man (Turing) portrayed by another genius (Cumberbatch). You know the story, yet root for the characters. 8.5/10.

2. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Birdman - Broadway extravaganza. Keaton's masterpiece with rock solid support from Stone & Norton. Dark comedy bordering on eccentric. 8.5/10

1. Inside Out
Inside Out - Imagination and creativity going where imagination and creativity come from. Spectacular and heart warming. 8.5/10

Bollywood Movies

5. Drishyam
Drishyam - A reverse whoddunit that makes you root for the perpetrators, pleasant surprise - script & story are king but acting avg. 8/10

4. Talvar
Talvar - Raises valid questions, makes you seethe with rage at the way the case has been handled so far. Irrfan & Neeraj effortless. 8/10.

3. Piku
Piku - The overtly detailed, testy, yet endearing old man, every Bengali family has this Dadu, played with elan by Big B. Deepika wins over the masses and classes. Irrfan, just brilliant as always. 8.5/10

2. Dum Laga Ke Haisha
 Dum Laga Ke Haisha - that unexpected annual low key movie that wins everyone over. Bhumi is the Queen of 2015. 8.5/10.

1. Masaan
Masaan - Movie of the year. Incredible handling of two sensitive stories. Superb acting by the ensemble cast. Watch out for @ghaywan. 9/10

Disclaimer: Among the notable movies of the year that could have made the cut I haven't watched Titli, Tamasha, and Manjhi The Mountainman.

Bridge of Spies - Outstanding work by Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, ably led by Speilberg. Chilling, honest, and edge of the seat stuff. 8/10.

The Grand Budapest Hotel - grabs your attention from get go, and doesn't let it slip. Comedy, drama & suspense play well together. 8/10

Bajrangi Bhaijan - old message of harmony delivered via a vehicle with all access pass to each heart string. Always fall for these. 7.5/10

Jurassic World - The 22 year wait was worth it. Finally a deserving successor to the movie that introduced Hollywood to many of us. 7.5/10

Bajirao Mastani - Literally epic. Sensory delight. Songs distracting. DP, PC, & RS give their best. Climax disappointing. 7.5/10

Ankhon Dekhi -Rajat Kapoor scoops out a squiggly lump of lower middle class India and its curious characters. Sanjay Mishra brilliant! 7.5/10

NH10 - Powerful performance by Anushka, with a storyline that's almost believable if you take one big leap of faith. Violence overkill. 7/10

Tanu Weds Manu Returns- the crazy, zany parts worked quite well and Kangana, get ready for the award speeches. Poor climax and message. 7/10

Baby - Another taut Neeraj Pandey thriller with India's collective fantasy played out in an Argo-inspired climax. Rasheed Naz scary! 7/10.

Badlapur - taut story, brilliant Nawaz, but Varun Woody Dhawan did no justice to the protagonist's character. Something new though. 6.5/10

Revolver Rani - quirky, dark humour, edgy, not effortless, meanders in the end, Kangana is good, but not Rani (Queen) level, hatke. 6.5/10.

Dilwale - SRK sleepwalks yet again, Kajol looks gorgeous, bullet riddled storyline, hummable music, Sanjay Mishra aces comedy. 4/10.

Dil Dhadakne Do - Pretentious, wannabe tripe by Zoya Akhtar. Don't feel for any of the characters, not even Aamir Khan the dog. 3/10

Phantom - patriotic fantasy rubbish. Senseless, directionless, mind numbing 2.5 hours. Saif tries in vain, Katrina doesn't add usual. 3/10.

Shamitabh - When creativity meets money and decides to go crazy and take the audience for granted. Leaves you insulted, and AB too. 2.5/10.

Roy - that one time where KRK  doesn't just get it spot on, but provides the no holds barred review this torture deserves. 2/10.

Bang Bang - the last sound you hear before the squelching one of your brain plopping on the ground. Clean, unadulterated tripe. 1/10.