Thursday, April 12, 2007

Namastey London!

Is it a city? Is it a film? No..its.....dubyaman!!!!! :-)
Its corny, but please let me laugh at my own PJ. Laughs are really hard to come by these days. Especially when Vipul Shah sets out to make an entertainer that doesn't entertain at all. 'Namaste London' is one long story about how an Indian guy woes back his anglisized wife. And long it is, especially in the post interval sections. The first half is OK thanks to some sequences, like when Katrina Kaif goes groom-shopping in India. She meets a Rabbi Shergill-wannabe, a character from some K-serial, and some others. If the film is barely tolerable, it's because of Akshay Kumar, Rishi Kapoor and the actress who plays his wife (a real find). Of course, it helps that the leading lady is easy on the eyes, and one doesn't mind her accented hindi because it's 'in character'. Noone knows what Upen Patel is doing in the film. Himesh Reshamiya's music jars. 'Rafta Rafta' is the only song that works, largely due to the green Punjab background and Katrina's vibrant salwaar kameezes. Did someone mention London? Yes, a lot of the film is shot in London, but I didn't take any particular notice.

Talking of which, I had a fantastic time this Easter because I was visiting London, again. Everytime I am here, I am amazed at how much there is still to discover in the city and also the nearby places. Some highlights of the trip:
1) Visited Shakespeare's birthplace - Stratford Upon Avon.
Year ago, when I was in school, I had received the book 'Tales from Shakespeare' by Charles & Mary Lamb as a prize for winning some competition. I read this book several times over the next few years until I left for college. I don't remember what happened of that copy, but visiting Shakespeare's house in Stratford brought back all those stories. That book has been my only access to Shakespeare's work, because I don't think I can ever read the original works. Luckily enough, I found a copy of the same book in the souvenior shop. One of my favourite stories is 'A midsummer night's dream'. I have seen the film (not that great) and more recently a marathi play 'Jangal Mein Mangal' at Ranga Shankara in Bangalore, that was based on this. This Shakespeare story is the perfect amalgamation of love, comedy and fantasy.

2) Villages in the Cotswolds region - Chipping Campden , Bourton on the Water
The name Chipping Campden reminded me of 'Chipping Cleghorn', the village where the murder takes place in Agatha Chrsitie's 'The Murder is announced'. Campden is a pretty village with an old world charm. Bourton on the water, also known as the Venice of Cotswolds, has a canal and some delightful pubs and 'Tea Inns'. The drive in the Cotswold region was really soothing. On the way we clicked several pictures in a DDLJ style 'sarson ka khet'. Spring, truly, is the best of seasons.

3)Cambridge- This is the second university town I've been to (the first one was Oxford). If ever there was a town where I'd have wanted to study, its Cambridge. It would have taken me many years to graduate, since I would have done little studying in so pretty a place. It was thrilling to actually stand in front of prestigious college buildings like The Trinity College, after having heard/read about them. The town was full of tourists like us. The day was sunny and several people where 'punting'. We spent a lazy half hour in one of the green lawns watching the blue skies, and centuries old buidings.

4) Window shopping at Harrods
5) And finally, the food ....
Sumptous Bangladeshi cuisine in 'Cinnamon Tree' at Bracknell
Wholesome snacks at 'Chennai Dosa' at Wembley - Mini Idlis, Dosas, Vadas and filter short, heaven!
Fish and Chicken Kebabs at Lahore Kabab House at East End(I didn't eat them, but everybody else wore a satiated smile on their faces that spelt bliss)
Dim Sum at Ping Pong near Bond Street (doesn't that rhyme?)

What I really missed watching was a play/musical at Leicester Square. But there's always , and will definitely be a next time in London.

A 'punt' is a flat-bottomed boat which does not have a keel, and is propelled by means of a long pole. Punts were introduced as pleasure craft in Edwardian times, since then punting has become one of the most popular ways to see the famous bridges and colleges along the River Cam.