Thursday, June 23, 2011

Top Gun !

“Almost all my friends are married and many of them have kids. Which to be honest is terrible! And my friends haven’t even turned 30 yet. What is wrong with them? To be honest, as much as I like these guys, I don’t think I can go through another weekend session with them discussing which playschool is the best & how difficult it is to wake up their wife when the baby starts crying because they don’t know what to do when their kid begins wailing so loudly that it disturbs the grateful dead. How does that change my life?"

"Whatever happened to discussing soccer and cars? How do I make these guys un-boring? Don’t they remember the good old days when all of us used to go to a pub and strike up conversations with women we found interesting? Oh, I just remembered, the wives probably wouldn’t agree to that any more. Argh!”

I didn’t even know all that frustration was pent up and quietly folded away hidden in some crevice deep within me until a long lost friend of mine, henceforth referred to as Mr. C (since he was a bit of a Casanova in our college days) brought up the topic of weekends since he was staying over at my place for a few days and wanted to know what the plan was for Saturday night. As I struggled to come to grips with what I had just said Mr. C burst out laughing. “You lucky idiot” was all he could say for the next few minutes as he proceeded to fall off his chair laughing while I was trying to get my blood pressure under control.

“You do know youre sitting on a goldmine, don’t you”

“Don’t be daft! Considering I’m young (sic), single and eligible, how could having dinner with family guys with their wives and kids on a Saturday night be good?”

“Watch and learn Mr Neil, watch and learn”

On that cryptic note we ended our discussion and I was left shaking my head confident that the once smooth talking suave woman magnet had lost it now that he was on the wrong side of 25.


As we made our way from the parking lot towards the fancy restaurant, I was a little tense. I knew I had to ensure that Mr. C didn’t do anything stupid which he was more than highly capable of. And considering that he thought being single and hanging out with married folk on a Saturday night was some sort of hidden oil well, I had more than fair reason to suspect his sanity.

“Ok I know you despise kids and you can’t stand domesticated husbands or their good two shoes wives but please keep in mind that these are my oldest friends and I have virtually grown up with them. I like them and more importantly they like me. There aren’t too many people who like me and I would at least like to keep that number a constant. So be nice! I really mean it.”

“What on earth are you talking about, Im always nice” he said with a devilish smile that had my gut plunge through the floor as if it had just dropped anchor. Like a lab rat that’s been dropped into a snakes pit for dinner I accepted my fate and started saying my prayers.

The next half an hour or so passed by pretty smoothly and I was relieved that nothing outward had happened. Mr. C regaled us with surprisingly funny stories that didn’t embarrass anyone at the table which was something new for me as the stories I usually heard from him would’ve turned even the roughest and toughest of sailors pink. Eventually the parents stopped paying too much attention to their kids and started relaxing a little when one of the moms realized her kid was missing. Before she could get into panic mode Mr. C jumped out of his seat and offered to go find the kid. Like the true gentleman that he wasn’t.

“He’s such a great guy, do you think he will be interested in my sister?” asked one of the women as I did everything to prevent rolling my eyes and uttering a sigh of disbelief. What in the world? Everything just seemed so wrong! Why wasn’t I good enough for her sister who was very cute but unfortunately equally dumb. A couple of minutes later I excused myself as I realized that everyone was back to having a good time and had totally forgotten about the missing child and child hunter.

I spotted him quite a few tables away engaged in deep conversation with 3 more than pretty women with the kid on his lap. Knowing Mr. C I put my detective hat on and slyly made my way to a nearby table and covered my face with the menu and proceeded to do my level best to eavesdrop. I figured he probably knew the women and I was glad I could put my conspiracy theories to rest when I heard his asking for one of the women for her number. Maybe she was an old friend and they had lost each other’s number. Had it been anybody else I would’ve accepted the explanation. Maybe something was cooking. I had to get to the bottom of this and quickly retraced my steps almost all the way back to my table before walking up to him and saying

“There you are. I was worried where you were. Are these your friends? Have I met them before?”

(I was distinctly aware of the fact that I was mumbling and making a royal fool of myself but it didn’t matter. The fact that he was getting the phone number of an attractive woman, old friend or not, bothered me because, well I don’t know why.)

“Oh no, I just met these lovely ladies. (Neil’s note : Cue blushes all around) Our little champ, David, wandered to this table and just wouldn’t leave them. You know how stubborn he can be. So I had to sit down with him for a while and got talking with these very nice young women. Michelle here works with ….”

“I really think we need to go as David’s mom must be getting worried. It was nice meeting you ladies” was all I could say as I led Mr. C away by the arm as he tried his best to ensure ‘David’ was also following us. I’m not certain but I think one of the women made the call me hand sigh to Mr. C and gave him a wink. There definitely was a wink.

“First of all the kids name is not David. I don’t know what his name is but I am sure it’s not David. Second of all, did you use the kid to flirt with those women? Shame on you! I thought you had some morals.”

As the three of us headed reached our table we realized that my friends had paid the bill and had gone outside to grab an ice cream from the next door shop. Great! They forgot about the 2 of us and come to think of it, they had even forgotten the kid. I explained to Mr C that everyone must be outside and we should also go get some ice cream if we wanted but was stopped mid sentence by the return of the wicked grin.

“Listen, you remember how I told you that you were sitting on a goldmine? Well this is it (Neil’s note : while pointing to the little kid who was looking extremely lost).Can you tell me a more perfect wingman than him? He won’t say a word and yet he will melt the hearts of women and give you the perfect chance to start up a conversation with anyone that you want to. And best of all he isn’t drunk so he won’t do anything stupid."

"But keep in mind you need to make it clear to them straight off the bat that you aren’t the dad and that you’re just a regular bloke who likes kids. Women have a soft corner for guys who like kids. Trust me on this. It’s got me a lot of phone numbers. Ok maybe a little more than phone numbers. (Neil’s note : There’s that grin again) And don’t worry, you can’t get caught because no one knows about it. I’m not stupid to reveal my secrets to the world by telling everybody or blogging about it. ”

I didn’t know what to say. Using poor innocent kids as bait seemed terrible. Then again if I never got caught I wouldn’t be wrong, would I? And I am not as bad as Mr. C, at least I would ensure that I got the kid’s name right if we going to be my wingman.

As we walked out to the ice cream munching and blissfully unaware friends of mine, I had to nod in agreement with Mr C’s closing statement “Bugger, to cut a long story short - Almost all your friends are married and many of them have kids. Which to be honest is wonderful!”

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The greatest movie .....

The worst movie ever made was unfolding right in front of my eyes. Admittedly it had one of India’s hottest box office superstars who was fresh off the success of his recent blockbuster but that was no excuse for the disgrace of a movie that was bankrolled by his brother’s production house. This was one of those movies for which you wished you had long hair only because you would have an excuse to pull it out in sheer frustration. If the lead actor was smart he would’ve kept a punching bag covered with the posters of the movie outside each theatre and charged the people unfortunate and / or dumb enough to watch the entire movie, for a chance to take out all their pent up rage on the bag.

Surely no movie can be that bad you say and that it’s just a case of this writer being cranky because he spent Rs 175 on a not so great movie. Of course it was as bad as I am making it out to be. The storyline had so many massive holes that you could have flown a full strength squadron of our Indian Air Force right through it and they could’ve done so blindfolded. The effort that was put in by the actors compares to our cricketers when they play anywhere except the IPL. I wish I could say the music was the saving grace but then again I’m not a very good liar.

What makes a movie great is well fleshed out characters, a reasonably strong plot
backed by some powerful script writing, a good background score and a little of that mysterious X factor that will leave the movie lingering in the minds of the viewers long after they have walked out of the movie hall. I know of one such movie that fits the bill perfectly and I’m pretty sure that none of you have watched it. The plot treads the fine line between being really good and great and the characters are built into it marvellously. The emotions that they go through as the story progresses brings to the fore the element of storytelling which seems to have become something of a lost art in this age of visual effects. The musical score is a strangely overlooked component of movies but here we have one that rivals that of the artistic The House of Flying Daggers and even the epic Dark Knight.

Now I’m the sort who prefers to be surprised by an awesome randomly picked ‘unknown’ movie rather than a mainstream box office hit that everyone says is a must watch. Green Street Hooligans and This Is England are two out of the blue movies that have left me spellbound and if you see the movie which I am talking about I am pretty certain that you will added it to your personal faves list. There’s just one problem.

You can’t appreciate how the lead actors have done justice to their characters nor the incredible production value which includes some stunning panoramic settings which are a visual delight. The same hold true for the plot and in fact everything else. And it’s all down to laziness. You see, it’s the greatest movie that’s never been made. And it’s right between my ears.