Saturday, November 28, 2009

A No-Day in Delhi and Watching Kurbaan at the Odeon

Picasa's spectacular Akshardam Temple. This photo only courtesy of Picasa's OJUS.

Akshardam Temple was my main itinerary for the day. After several plans, I walked from Paharganj all the way to Connaught's Place which isn't really much - if you love walking. I looked for the pre-paid taxi booth infront of Palika and booked my Akshardam ride. I was bracing myself for a steep price, but thank heavens, despite it's distance from Connaught's (we had to travel and cross the Yamuna River), i was charged 70 rupees. This is already a lesson for everyone. To avoid haggling with drivers, always use the pre-paid booth, which is managed by the Delhi Traffic Police. After 40 minutes, I was in the vast 10 acre complex. To my surprise, entrance was free! Here's the big let down: Camera, mobiles, bags are NOT allowed inside. What's more, you have to remove the battery from the camera - which was a concern for me. I didn't want my roaming disturbed by such practice.

My very first visit with a Swaminaryan Temple was in London. It was an imposing white-washed Hindu structure rising from the North London suburbs. And visiting Akshardam was like coming into full circle - without the opportunity to document it. Oh well.

The park at the center of the Connaught's Complex also doesn't allow cameras, so if you are a tourist carrying your cameras and bags and all, would you look for a left luggage in the area just to visit a park? No, honey, you leave and move to the next visitable place.

Finally, movie halls (sinehan po) in Delhi doesn't allow cameras inside. There are cloak rooms for this but the personnel at the room will search through your backpack and remove the batteries off your camera before letting you in.

I wanted to watch this new Bollywood film called "Kurbaan" which is advertised ad nauseam even across the Sunaurli border in Bhairawa, Nepal. It is THAT popular. The eye-catching poster also helps. I bought a "gold" ticket (175 rupees - platinum ticket costs 250 rupees). People were looking my way probably thinking that this Japanese lost his way inside the cinema ("2012" was showing next door).

Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan in the blockbuster "Kurbaan". Drawing crowds and palpable emotions.

Kurbaan is a timely dramatic thriller that highlights terrorism from Delhi to New York. The story centers on 2 university professors Avantika (Kareena Kapoor) and Ishaan (Saif Ali Khan) who meet and fall in love while teaching in Delhi. When Avantika gets a teaching grant at a New York university, they decide to get married and make their lives in the Big Apple. Little did Avantika know that she has become pawn of a master plan to re-create the September 11 bombing of New York, this time, on a larger scale that involves the subway system and Manhattan. Unlike most Bollywood fares, Kurbaan tells his story straight, without suddenly singing and dancing their way through the narrative. This gives the movie a serious veneer that's easy to appreciate. Performances are top notch and Kareena Kapoor simmers, but it's actually Vivek Oberoi who comes out with a multi-layered performance. He reminds me of the young Liam Neeson, albeit the Indian version. Go watch!

This is the Eye in the Sky.

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