Escape from Dhaka

Posted in action, Dhallywood, fantasy, movies, thriller by jrahman on July 26, 2020

When Rishi Kapoor passed away a day after Irrfan Khan, hardly anyone raised D-Day — the 2013 turkey they both starred in.  Uncharacteristically, Kapoor played the villain.  Named Goldman, the character is not inspired by any Bond flick, but the real life character Dawood Ibrahim — one of the top fugitives in the world with a $25 million bounty, and the subject as well as financier of many a Bollywood movie.  In the movie, Khan is a deep cover RAW agent who is sent to Pakistan to spy on the mob boss.  No, not a fancy, posh, big name hair stylist, but your neighbourhood barber.

Sounds ridiculous?  Not as ridiculous as the army officer turned mercenary who is sent by RAW to nab Goldman.  Played by Arjun Rampal, the first thing this Indian hero does in the Land of the Pure is to visit a lady of the night!  Perhaps he fancied the lure of the exotic other, or maybe he always wanted to visit Heera Mandi and had to make do with some Karachi girl– but surely this was supremely irresponsible: I mean, one would think someone with the surname Singh might have a certain anatomical feature that would be quite distinctive compared with the typical patron of most houses of ill repute in the Islamic Republic!


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Games of Peacock Thrones

Posted in fantasy, history, South Asia, what ifs by jrahman on April 8, 2018

I haven’t read Helen Dale’s new book, but Jesus as an extremist, political philosophy of imperialism — sure sounds promising.  However, what about the counterfactual of an industrialised Rome?  I did read the author’s notes, and some commentary, with much interest.  This got me thinking.  What about a counterfactual of an industrialised Mughal Empire?


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A brief (alternative) history of Pakistan 4

Posted in fantasy, what ifs by jrahman on October 28, 2017

Previously, Pakistan is created as a ‘moth nibbled basket case’, with its first prime minister MA Jinnah dying after merely 13 months in office.  Subsequently, the Muslim League splinters into two parties, each vying to win the country’s first general election in December 1950.  HS Suhrawardy is re-elected in the centre, and consolidates power over the provinces.  

As the years have gone by, historians and pundits of all stripes look back to the mid-1950s with increasing fondness.  However, Pakistan under Prime Minister Suhrawardy was every bit chaotic, with all aspects of life being just as contingent on chance, as it is today.


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When fact is fiction

Posted in fantasy, movies, music, thriller by jrahman on July 15, 2017

I live in a country that Lyndon Johnson once called the ‘ass end of the world’ — whichever direction you travel, there is no short flight from this southern land.  One good thing about the long haul flight, however, is the chance to watch stuff that you otherwise might not have, provided you’re flying a decent carrier, of course.  My usual guilty pleasures are sitcoms — I think I watched more HIMYM and Big Bang Theory episodes airborne than on my couch.

I made an exception recently.  The Emirates have a reasonable collection of Bangla (or given they are from the Indian Bengal, should I say Bengali?) movies.  I was curious, and wasn’t left disappointed.  It appears that a number of noir films have come out of Kolkata recently.  How exciting, right?


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Mountains of the Moon – 8

Posted in adventure, books, Chander pahar, fantasy by jrahman on June 18, 2017

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Mountains of the Moon — 7

Posted in adventure, books, Chander pahar, classics, fantasy by jrahman on August 3, 2016

Well over a decade ago, I entered a writing challenge with my brothers to scribble 10,000 words in a month.  For this, I started translating Bibhuti Bhushan Bondopadhyaya’s Chander Pahar (Mountains of the Moon) — the action adventure story of a young man from the rural heart of early 20th century Bengal who leaves his East African railway job in search of a diamond mine, and encounters man-eating lions, black mamba, volcanic eruption, Kalahari, cannibals, a mysterious apelike creature that doesn’t fear fire.

I posted the first six chapters between October 2011 and March 2013 — Shankar escapes the rural life to work in the lion territory, and the black mamba station, where he saves the life of an old man with an exciting tale, and they set off for the mountains of the moon. Time to restart the series.


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The best ‘superhero’ movie

Posted in action, fantasy, movies, Uncategorized by jrahman on December 25, 2013

The Guardian has been listing top 10 movies by genre.  Batman, Superman, Spider-man, Ironman all make at least one appearance, as do the Avengers and X-Men, and so does pleasingly surprisingly, Blade, in the superhero list, which is predictably topped by The Dark Knight.

Now, the Dark Knight Trilogy is right up there in terms of Hollywood epic grandeur.  And I am partial to the political philosophy themes in that series.  I should sometime write a piece on that.

But I think the best ‘superhero’ movie — by which, I of course mean a trilogy — is yet to be made.

skull ring


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Long time ago, in a country far, far away

Posted in fantasy by jrahman on November 3, 2013


Bollywood just doesn’t do epics well.  But then again, who needs Bollywood in the age of HBO.  Why not an epic TV series?

No, not the Great Epic —that was done a quarter century ago.  And it has been ripped off shamelessly, and unsuccessfully, by Bollywood already.  Instead of yet another attempt at that, let’s flesh out an old idea.

We want something with: a battle around a fortress; a royal scandal involving a famous diamond; complicated love stories; Sufis, nautch girls, elephants, snakes, jadu-tona, tantriks and tigers; and a whodunnit.

Let’s see if we can weave a story out of these.


A brief (alternate) history of India — the rangeela years

Posted in fantasy, what ifs by jrahman on October 19, 2013

Previously: India wins freedom; President Jinnah; President Das; Nehru elected; Nehru’s agenda; Nehru’s first term; Nehru re-elected; Nehru’s second term.

It’s not really clear why President Nehru’s third term is considered the rangeela years.  Perhaps it’s a reference to the introduction of technicolour spectacles — AshokaJodha Akbar and such like — of the era, or more generally, the introduction of colours to Desi films.


Mountains of the Moon 6

Posted in Chander pahar, fantasy by jrahman on March 14, 2013

Previously, Shankar escapes the rural life to work in the lion territory, and the black mamba station, where he saves the life of an old man with an exciting tale

To mountains of the moon

Alvarez survived that night, and partly thanks to Shankar’s care, was on his feet within a couple of weeks.  Another week later, he said it was time to move on.  Shankar knew what he wanted.  He said: Do you remember what you said that night?  About the yellow diamond?

The old man had been silent about his past after the first night.  In fact, most of the time Alvarez just sat there silently.  He replied: You know, it’s not that I haven’t thought about it.  But are you brave enough to chase the rainbow?

Shankar: May be I am, may be not.  Only one way to find out.  If you’re game then I’ll wire the company today to find a replacement for me.

Alvarez: Wire them then.  But think about it first.  Prospecting more often than not leads to nothing.  I know an eighty years old who found nothing — but every time he claimed to have come close.  Spent his entire life prospecting Australian deserts and African veldts.  


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