Trivia Challenge #2

When I posted my first trivia challenge some weeks ago, PV asked me to do one on desi movies. So here it is:

1. You know what, I think the really good Govinda movies of the nineties (the best of which is undoubtedly Coolie No. 1) deserve comparison with some of the frothiest entertainers of all time. Yeah, I really do think that. Then of course it all went to hell with films like Hadh Kar Di Aapne. One of the saddest things about it is, Hadh… borrows its basic premise from one of the best Fred & Ginger musicals of all time. Name the musical.

2. There are three things common to Alam Ara, Bhakta Prahlada and Kalidasa. The first is that they were all released in 1931. The second is that they were the first talkie films in their respective languages (Hindi, Telugu and Tamil). What is the third?

3. There’s a song attached here. Listen to it, it’s quite nice. Now, if I were to ask you for the name of the singer, you’d say Mohammed Rafi even before I finished the question. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of a question at all, given that the singer’s name is given in the display when you launch the player from this link. But if I were to ask you for the name of the actor it’s picturized on, your answer would be…?

4. Back in the nineties, SRK starred in an Abbas-Mustan film called Badshah. It wasn’t too bad, as comic capers go. Not surprisingly, it was highly leveraged (fin-speak for “borrowed heavily”). The last 30 minutes, in particular, faithfully lifted plot points from two different Hollywood movies. Name both of them.

5. Every so often, some Indian filmmaker decides to adapt Shakespeare. Gulzar did it with Angoor, while David Dhawan was inspired by the same play to make Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan. Apparently, The Taming of the Shrew provided the inspiration for Sivaji Ganesan’s Arivaali — not sure about this, though. Vishal Bharadwaj, however, seems to prefer The Bard’s tragedies. When Omkara was released, much was made of the fact that it was an adaptation of Othello to an Indian mileu. However, I don’t remember too many people making mention of the fact that someone had already done Othello in Indian cinema. Your task now is to tell me what the earlier adaptation was.

Answers in a day or two.

Answers to Trivia Challenge #1

Now, the answers to Trivia Challenge #1:

1. The connection I was looking for is Joseph Conrad. Apocalypse Now was based on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (Coppola’s wife made a documentary on the making of the film, titled Hearts of Darkness). Amitabh’s character in Kala Paththar was indeed based on the protagonist in Conrad’s Lord Jim (watch the flashback sequence where he is a naval officer). And the spaceship in Alien was named Nostromo, after a Conrad novel. In the script, another spaceship was named Narcissus (after another Conrad novel, The Nigger of Narcissus). Ridley Scott appears to have been a Conrad fan — his debut was based on The Duellists.

2. The connection is the phrase For whom the bell tolls, originally by John Donne (pic 1) from his work that begins famously with No man is an island</i>, borrowed by Hemingway for the title of his novel. The third pic is a still from the movie version of the Hemingway novel.

3. The reason is Good Will Hunting, which was set in MIT. When it won a bunch of Oscars, they lit up the building to celebrate.

4. Ah, the one question people didn’t get! What people did was put the stamp on envelopes and sent it to junk addresses so that they would get it back with the words Return to Sender stamped on it. Which, in case you don’t know your Elvis, is the title of one of his hits.

5. Modern Times was supposed to be a critique of the mechanized world we live in. Therefore, all sounds in the film are mechanical. Even human voices are not heard directly, but over a device such as the radio/loudspeaker.

Good show, Shafeek and PV! Srikanth, I’ve seen it referred to as a poem in some places, but I’ll take your word for it being an essay 🙂

I will do one on Hindi films soon. Hope you folks enjoyed this one. Let me know if it was too tough/easy/boring.

Trivia Challenge #1

I am, or at least used to be, an avid quizzer with a special interest in movie trivia. (To the point where my wife used to turn to me during a screening of, say, Jodhaa Akbar, to ask me if I knew the name of the second elephant from the right in the battle scene right at the beginning.)

Then I got into this blogging business and found that most people around knew more than I did about the movies. So here’s a set of questions aimed at you movie buffs. Depending on the response, I may do more of these in the future. This one’s centered around Hollywood, but in case that’s not your preferred area, I’ll do one on Indian cinema soon enough.

1. I like to come up oblique connections, especially between literature and the movies, so here’s a relatively straightforward one to begin with: Connect the following:

2. Again, as Margaret Schlegel would say, only connect…

3. This is a photograph of a building at MIT, taken sometime in early 1998. Why was it lit up like that?

4. Not quite a movie question, but one I really love. When this stamp came out, a whole bunch of Elvis fans did something very curious with it. What exactly did they do?

5. Modern Times was supposed to be Charles Chaplin’s first full sound film. But there is something unique about the sounds in the film; something to do with the film’s theme. What ?

Answers in a day or two.

Five hundred years of brotherly love

I attended the Landmark quiz in Mumbai yesterday. Having been away from quizzing for a while, it was quite refreshing to get back to it for a few hours. My team didn’t qualify for the finals, but I am not new to being in that position, so I enjoyed myself all the same.

One of the little pleasures of these big open quizzes is that there is a prize for best team name, and the shortlist usually contains some beauties. My favourite, and the winner this year was: Pigs fly, Swine Flu.

The bigger pleasure, however, is to learn some things of earth-shattering inconsequence that nonetheless brighten your day. Did you know, for instance, that a lot of clubs in the US have blue lighting in the restrooms to discourage intravenous drug abuse? The lighting makes it more difficult to find the veins, you see.

My favourite, though, is a Swiss watch that automatically displayes the rahukaalam every day. One of the people involved in its design is Chitra Subramaniam, best known for her coverage of the Bofors scandal. Makes one wonder if Ottavio Quattrochi took her on a Ferris wheel ride in Vienna, explained a few things to her and got her thinking about brotherly love and cuckoo clocks.