Books and movies you shouldn’t miss

I was chatting with a friend –- let’s call him Varun –- about books and movies. Varun considers himself an expert on almost everything. So I asked him to name his favorite books and movies.

VARUN: “Well, one of my favorite books is Salman Rushdie’s M. M. Night book.jpg Night’s Children.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Midnight’s Children?”

VARUN: “No, M. Night’s Children. It’s the story of two brave girls who delete a movie script on their father’s computer, saving the world from another disaster.”

ME: “Wow, Salman is amazing. Give the man a Nobel already! What other books do you like?”

VARUN: “I really love Jhumpa Lahiri’s first book Interpreter of My Laddoos.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Interpreter of Maladies?”

VARUN: “No, Interpreter of My Laddoos. It’s the story of a woman named Anjali who owns an Indian restaurant in New York and tries to win the attention of a handsome IT specialist by giving him two free laddoos after every meal. She keeps wondering if he will get the message.”

ME: “Jhumpa is fantastic. Where does she get her ideas?”

VARUN: “Yes, she’s fabulous. I also like her latest book: Unaccustomed Girth.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Unaccustomed Earth?”

VARUN: “No, Unaccustomed Girth. It’s the story of a skinny lad from Kolkata named Gopal who comes to America to study at Boston University and falls in love with the all-you-can-eat buffet.”

ME: “Another winner from Jhumpa! What other books do you like?”VARUN: “Well, I really like Chetan Bhagat’s Five Pint Someone – what not to do at MIT.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Five Point Someone – what not to do at IIT?”

VARUN: “No, Five Pint Someone. It’s the story of an Indian student named Hari who miraculously gets into MIT, then finds himself hanging out at the local bar with his friends Alok and Ryan — and the professor’s daughter, Neha — downing at least five pints a night.”

ME: “Another literary classic from Chetan! What else do you like?”

VARUN: “Well, I absolutely love V.S. Naipaul’s Half a Wife.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Half a Life?”

VARUN: “No, Half a Wife. It’s the story of Sir Vidia, the greatest writer in the history of the world, and his mistress, Margaret. At times, he actually thinks he is married to her. A certain part of her, anyway.”

ME: “That story sounds familiar. What about movies? Which ones are your favorites?”

VARUN: “Well, I really like the movie Scumbag Millionaire.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Slumdog Millionaire?”

VARUN: “No, Scumbag Millionaire. It’s the story of Mahender and Varsha, a New York couple who make millions in the perfume industry, but can’t help saving a few bucks by enslaving their domestic workers.”

ME: “I bet Om Puri plays the role of Mahender. What else do you like?

VARUN: “I loved Mamma M.I.A. And not just for the music.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Mamma Mia?”

VARUN: “No, Mamma M.I.A. It’s the story of a popular singer named Mathangi who gets engaged and has a baby, then tries to keep her career from plummeting like a paper plane.”

ME: “I think I’ve seen that movie before. What else do you like?”

VARUN: “One of my favorite movies of all time is the comedy When Hari Met Sari.”

ME: “Don’t you mean When Harry Met Sally?”

VARUN: “No, When Hari Met Sari. It’s the story of a man named Hari who loves the beautiful silk saris his wife, Anu, wears. Then one day, while she’s shopping at the mall, he tries one on himself. And his life is never the same again.”

ME: “A Deepa Mehta movie, I’m sure. What else do you like?”

VARUN: “I really love The Chronicles of Sania.”

ME: “Don’t you mean The Chronicles of Narnia?”

VARUN: “No, The Chronicles of Sania. It’s the story of a tennis star from Hyderabad who makes tons of money through endorsements and caps her career by becoming the first Indian tennis player to win a starring role in a Bollywood movie.”

Me: “I love sports movies.”

VARUN: “Yeah, me too. In fact, one of my all-time favorites is a movie called Death Vish.”

Me: “Don’t you mean Death Wish? I think it’s a Charles Bronson movie.”

VARUN: “No, Death Vish. It’s the story of an Indian chess player named Vishwanathan who beats all the Russians, Ukrainians and anyone else who has a Death Vish.”

46 thoughts on “Books and movies you shouldn’t miss

  1. Oh ho, oh ho, ho ho ho. wipes tear from my eye

    You know, I was reading a collection of essays on the philosophy of aesthetics that said that we have been culturally indoctrinated to groan and roll our eyes at puns. So I gotta say, this was groan-worthy!

    But I agree that Om Puri could and should play Mahender.

  2. In a word, that was seriously lame. The least that one could expect is some variation on ‘Don’t you mean…’

  3. VARUN: “No, Interpreter of My Laddoos. It’s the story of a woman named Anjali who owns an Indian restaurant in New York and tries to win the attention of a handsome IT specialist by giving him two free laddoos after every meal. She keeps wondering if he will get the message.”

    I have no idea why that made me laugh so hard, but, it did. It’s so corny, it loops back on itself into non-corny, or something. I like.

  4. Varun: And my favorite song is ‘The Titanic Verses’

    Do you mean the book – ‘the satanic verses’?

    Varun: No, I mean the song,’The Titanic Verses’ – it’s penned by Bappi Lahiri and any singer who sings that song finds his career is in deep waters.

  5. Varun: I liked the book ‘God of Small Things’

    Me: You mean the Arundhati Roy Book that is so depressive to read

    Varun: No. The exciting story of …

  6. Varun: I liked the Taslima Nasrin’s ‘Lacha Ke Peeche Kya Hai’ Me: You mean her ‘Lajja(Shame)’ about the Sudhamoy family and their muslim motherland Varun: No this is a story of a muslim painter M.F Hussein’s work on painting of his idol Madhuri Dixit

  7. Beginning of interview. Both clear throats.

    Varun: Well, I really liked the movie…um…hang on…I’m thinking of one for The Namesake. Uh…The Nomsake? The Birdrake? Wait, I’ll get it. Just a second. Me: Don’t you mean the—Oh FUCK THIS SHIT! Alright? I can’t do this contrived bullshit anymore. Varun:Uhm…the Parrotcage? The Bursar’s fag? (Simply) No, that is a bad word. Me: No, that’s it, I’m done. I’ve had it with this sanitized mechanical gerbil wheel pun-lollercoaster shit. Varun: But it means cigarette in England. I will be homophobic elsewhere, in a more obvious way. Perhaps it should be the Loinsteak. Me: Why not just call it “A Slight Variation on the Title of a Book Widely Known Enough in the Specific Cultural Diaspora of My Readership that My Contrived Variation on that Title is Obvious even to the Criminally Insane.” Huh? Does that solve it? Is that about right? Varun:Bonemake.Peristrait. Buglebait. Me: Oh I know, how about “A Formulaic Gimmick Oft Repeated Does Not a Piece of Humor Make.” Varun: Make. Cake. Bake! Me: This shit you’ve written doesn’t mean anything. It is gibberish! It’s not commentary. It’s not subversive. It’s not funny! And when Hari met Sari? What the fuck? Are you that scared of womens’ clothes? Even when it is commentary, it’s the kind of point a five year old could make and a four year old could understand.

    Varun drools briefly.

    Me: Jesus. It’s…all over you…what, do you even care? This is…This is too much. This is enough.

    He leaves the room.

    Varun: (brokenly sobbing, while masturbating over a photograph of Don Rickles) I hope I haven’t offended anyone.


  8. Unaccustomed Girth

    I would get banned, if I told you all what I thought that was going to be about.

    Let’s just say I thought you would have to go to a special book store to read that one.

  9. Absolutely hilarious (and a very clever) post!

    M. Night’s Children – ‘Saving the world from another disaster’, and of course them not having to listen to another torturous ‘bedtime’ story from Daddy!

  10. “No, M. Night’s Children. It’s the story of two brave girls who delete a movie script on their father’s computer, saving the world from another disaster.”

    pure genius. i hope this gets forwarded to manoj night. shyamalan.

    btw, is melvin your real name?

  11. That was so funny! I have a sneaking suspicion that you have watched more Monty Python’s Flying Circus episodes than me. Hats off and welcome to the mutiny.

  12. regarding the fellow who wore his wife’s sari.. “And his life is never the same again”. sounds like my autobiography

  13. Thanks for all your comments, both positive and negative. I’ll pass them on to Varun. :-)

    btw, is melvin your real name?

    Yes, unfortunately. It was a cool name at one time — and who knows, maybe when I’m 80, it’ll be cool again.

  14. V.S.Naipaul’s A HOUSE FOR MR. BUSH WAS - The heartbreaking tale of G.W.Bush’s melancholy farewell to the big, white house he almost wrecked during his eight-year stay.

  15. My coworker thinks I am nuts because I fell out laughing so much. Thanks Melvin!

  16. Ah! It wasnt that good….it started off well but became too repetitive… it was a nice read but I wont go gaga like others..:)

  17. 25 · Melvin said

    Yes, unfortunately. It was a cool name at one time — and who knows, maybe when I’m 80, it’ll be cool again.

    it’s not so bad — pretty evocative actually. reminds me of melanin, and therefore, of sepia.

  18. SA fiction is in a fragile enough state. I don’t think it will survive the jokes. Jhumpa Aunty, don’t adjust the formula. Please. This message does not apply to the recent Booker Prize Winner, you Sir have plenty of Change in order. Oh, and Miss Roy? Come back to us.

  19. Melvin, fancy reading you here. I remember laughing along to your humor column in the India Tribune when I was a wee lad in Chicago; you are as funny as ever!

    Cheers from Delhi…

  20. Notice how hard comedy is? Trying to make someone emotionally sad is easy, but laughter is hard to get out of people. This is why I dont respect the Oscars. Making a great comedy is a thousand times harder then making a Holocaust movie or a movie about race relations, but they respest those and not comedy.

  21. I’ve always enjoyed the humor of M. Durai and I am thrilled that Sepia Mutiny is featuring the incredible talent of Durai.

    (Vaiko, I disagree with the last part of your statement – you must be in the extremely small minority. But then again, it’s a free world and you are entitled to your opinion.)

  22. dont know what is more depressing : the fact that any adult would write this : or the fact that so many liked it.

  23. Great place to visit and even greater place to learn a bit more about an art medium you have always wanted to try!! Excellent classes taught by real artists.

  24. the ladoo part was superb..i can’t believe it i was actually laughin on something so silly. it was very lame and stupid but man! i laughed a looooot

  25. In the grand pattern of things you’ll get an A+ just for hard work. Exactly where you confused me personally was in all the details. As they say, the devil is in the details… And that could not be more true at this point. Having said that, let me reveal to you exactly what did work. The authoring is actually pretty convincing which is possibly why I am taking an effort to opine. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. Next, despite the fact that I can notice a jumps in reasoning you make, I am not necessarily sure of exactly how you seem to connect the ideas which in turn produce the actual final result. For right now I shall yield to your point but wish in the foreseeable future you actually link the facts much better.———