Tag Archives: funny

Indian English Class 2 (This Is What I Am Telling)

Since the previous Indian English lesson brought a greater response than expected, The NRI has decided to schedule a second lesson – starting now. After the freeform approach of the first class, let’s try and be a little more focused this time. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and make comments at the end of the lesson.

To get you back into the spirit, let’s complete a brief exercise. In the following passage, there are a number of examples of Indian English we learned last time. Identify them.

‘Kind Madam/Sir, details of concerned products would be arriving in your mail today itself. Orders for Green Bay Packers Hand Glove should be filled at the earliest as product is likely to get over quickly due to demand. Deadline for all orders is by 3:00 PM Friday. Kindly do the needful.’

…read more at The NRI…

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under India

‘Outsourced’ Episode 3: We talked, they listened!

Last week, I dissed NBC’s new sitcom ‘Outsourced’ for being inaccurate, unfunny and offensive, but said I’d give it one last chance with the third episode. And you know what? Everything turned out better than expected!

It was true to life. Virtually all the characters behaved in recognisable – and interesting – ways. The cross-cultural interactions make sense, as do the intra-cultural ones, even if the show’s basis in American culture and humour means that the dialogue rushes by a bit faster than is natural and some outlandish scenarios are thrown up. Still, those less believable moments are made funny and interesting by good writing and performances. The rest of it seems pretty much right on the mark. All the characters are really growing into themselves now that they each have some space in which to do so, and they are all great to watch.

It was funny. Jokes! Funny jokes! After the cringe-filled disaster of the first two episodes, I was delighted to find myself chuckling throughout. There are several memorable lines – “I just wanted to inform you that Gurpreet is making a personal call”; “There’s no unsubscribing”; “Again… you are not my equals” – and they are crafted into some excellent, laugh-out-loud scenes. The moment in which Todd and Charlie decide to step out onto the dancefloor was classic, and the whole dinner date was hilarious. This was my biggest problem with the first two episodes: the lack of decent humour made the show a chore to sit through. This time around, it was genuinely entertaining.

It was completely respectful and inoffensive (almost). At last, America was removed from the pedestal. Todd was shown to be sometimes a bit of an asshole and Charlie bumbled his way awkwardly through all of his interactions with Tanya, and on the Indian side, the show gave simple, knowing insights into (among other things) the idea of arranged marriage in India and didn’t try to tear any of them down. One problem: Tanya, the token white girl (who also happens to be Australian), is a total nymphomaniac. She’s not above shoving foot into crotch under the table or dropping ludicrously broad innuendos in the street. While this is a stereotype that is occasionally true, it really didn’t need perpetuating.

That makes for one bum note in an otherwise very enjoyable 20 minutes of television. I will definitely be tuning in for the next episode. Things are looking up!

3 Comments

Filed under India

Tracks I never tire of: ‘These Words’

‘These Words’, by Natasha Bedingfield, 2004, from the album Unwritten


I was 19 when ‘These Words’ came out and dominated C4 and commercial radio for a few weeks. It had a catchy up-tempo beat, great lyrics (about struggling with writer’s block in the studio), Bedingfield’s strong and passionate voice and a classic video. All these helped me to love it, but what makes me never tire of it is the memory of one of the funniest, and most embarrassing, episodes in my life.

My good mate Tommy and I were on our way out to Taylors Mistake, a beach/peninsula just outside of Christchurch, to go fishing. He had picked me up around midday in his car and, with the summer sun high in a cloudless sky, we wound the windows all the way down and turned the radio up to full volume. The Rasmus – ‘In The Shadows’. Usher – ‘Yeah’. OutKast – ‘Roses’. It was going to be a great day.

Then ‘These Words’ came on. Perhaps it was the heat, but we went a little crazy – not merely singing along, but singing along to each other, gesticulating and grinning widely as we pulled up to an intersection on Moorhouse Drive. With the car idling, we put everything we had into our performance, our voices striving to reach Natasha’s high pitch. The world around us dissolved as we lost ourselves in it.

Halfway through the chorus, as our voices reached a crescendo, I noticed that a car had pulled up next to us. I froze. Then Tommy looked, and he froze. It was FILLED with hot girls – five of them, all staring at us in disbelief… and laughing uproariously.

For those that don’t know the lyrics to ‘These Words’, the chorus – which we were singing at full volume, as we looked into each other’s eyes, when the girls pulled up – goes like this:

These words are my own, from my heart flow
I love you I love you I love you I love you
There’s no other way to better say
I love you
I love you

Of course we stopped singing. Then, after a few seconds of begging the lights to change, now, please now, we started laughing too. And every time I’ve heard the song since, I’ve remembered that moment of sheer panic, followed by the realisation of how hilarious and absurd we must have looked.

Tommy and I never saw those girls again, but we’ll always have ‘These Words’.

View the music video and hear the song by clicking here. Thank you, Tommy, for being a good sport and allowing me to announce this to the world.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Film Review: ‘Four Lions’ (2010)

IMDb / Ben Walters (Sight & Sound) / Kim Newman (Empire)
Written by Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Simon Blackwell & Chris Morris
Directed by Chris Morris

Rating: E

Four Lions, from the mind of Brass Eye/The Day Today genius Chris Morris, is that rarest of cinema commodities: something different. Earlier this year a film about a man sewing people’s mouths to other people’s anuses was released, and among seasoned viewers barely a bored eyebrow was raised; another, whose content contains purportedly the most controversial rape scene in film history, is upcoming and anticipated largely with detached groans and eye-rolls. But here is Four Lions, here is a film that is genuinely fresh. Rather than aiming solely for the gutter – which it hits in esteemed fashion with some of the most erudite dick and fart jokes in years – it also reaches for the stars, skewering almost everyone in its satirical sights and eliciting tears of laughter and pathos in the process.

Omar (Riz Ahmed, in a hopefully star-making performance) is the leader of a tiny stand-alone cell of British-born-and-based mujahideen, planning their entry into heaven by way of martyrdom as they blow themselves up at… a Boots chemist’s, perhaps? Well, they haven’t quite decided where yet. His brethren are Waj (Kayvan Novak), an imbecile whose idea of Firdaus is a ride at Alton Towers theme park; Barry (Nigel Lindsay), an Englishman convert to Islam in desperate need of a sense of humour; Faisal (Adeel Akhtar), a camera-shy, softly spoken guy unsure of the mission, and also a very poor impressionist; and Hassan (Arsher Ali), a wannabe rapper convinced of the worthiness of suicide bombing by Barry’s unusual methods of indoctrination. While this sorry lot look on paper like a typical motley crew in another stupid buddy comedy, they are elevated by a combination of sharp writing and excellent, naturalistic performances.

Indeed, one of the major elements that sets Four Lions apart is that emphasis on keeping it real. A clash of so many varied ideas could all so easily spiral out of control, but while the overall premise and events of the plot are almost all completely absurd, an insistence on a documentary feel grounds the film throughout. Omar and his band are shot in a mixture of sharp zooms, medium close-ups and detached long shots, and their performances overall seem improvised (although given how neatly each scene fits together, they probably weren’t). Most of the music – with the notable exception of Hassan and Waj’s hilarious rhymes, and the repeated use of a terrible pop classic – is simple Arabic-sounding tones and used only in rare cases during scene transitions, allowing the characterisations and dialogue of these lovable idiots to shine.

The key to the film, however, is in the scenes with Omar’s family, and one imagines this is where many viewers will lose interest and/or respect. His disapproving older brother, sweet and supportive wife and doting son could all come out of a season of EastEnders (and the actress who plays his wife is presently, as it happens, acting in EastEnders)… but this is precisely the point. The spectre of terrorism and terrorists, so puffed-up and sensationalised in the news media, is brought crashing to earth in a comparison with the preposterous unreality of a soap opera. At the same time, folks who watch soap operas on a regular basis probably swallow most of what popular news media throws at them, from nukes in Iraq to the inherent perversion of Britain’s footballers; Morris grasps the opportunity to bring that greatest fear of the day as close to home as possible, and show that, you know, these guys maybe aren’t all that different from us. There is an outstanding scene between Omar and his wife at the hospital where she works, a showcase for both the superb script and note-perfect performers that sums up the entire film before you can even realise it.

As for the jokes, there are often several classics in a given scene, and they cover the gamut – encompassing ridiculously rabid anti-Semitism, making fun of English and Asian accents, brutal slapstick, and of course the above-mentioned toilet humour (which, in a clever twist, is often in Urdu). Alongside all this are the innumerable perceptive lines that are at once amusing and disheartening, or in some cases deeply moving. One can only imagine that the process of writing was arduous: first to think of something funny, then to put it into a character’s voice, then to make it work within the framework of a scene, and finally to fit all this into the fabric of the film as a whole. Rather than trying to select some of the finer gems, it’s probably better to simply allow you to experience them fresh as you watch the film – much of their greatness is in their delivery, particularly by the fantastically poker-faced Barry. Anyway, if I tried we’d be here all night. It’s the kind of film where if you see it with friends, you start quoting it to each other immediately upon exiting the cinema and continue for days, months and quite likely years afterwards.

At bottom, it’s simply extraordinary that a comedy film about a group of suicide bombers was made at all, let alone one so expertly crafted. When it ended, I felt a rare sense of exhiliration – at having been completely enveloped in the film’s world, at having laughed myself silly, and at having witnessed something so brilliantly subversive it might even one day deserve comparison with that great master of absurdist cinema, Buñuel. I can only hope that Morris, a renowned near-recluse and non-participant in the modern media circus, suddenly starts to take pleasure in being highly productive, and we don’t have to wait another ten years for his next slice of Zeitgeist-distilling greatness.

Leave a comment

Filed under Film

Indian English Class (aka Doing The Needful)

do the needful at the earliest – Anyone who deals with Indian businesspeople or outsourcing will be familiar with this one. According to Wikipedia, it’s a remnant of early-to-mid-20th Century British English that has died out in the native speakers but lives on in this and a couple of other colonies. Search for it in Google, with quotes, and the first few results are humorous Western perspectives of the phrase, but then you have another 260,000 results of people actually posting that phrase on the internet. Add ‘kindly’ in front and the field narrows to a paltry 103,000. I can only hope that in each case, the needful was indeed done. At the earliest. (Earliest what?)

…read the full article at The NRI…

1 Comment

Filed under India