Posters in a time of covid
“No matter how much of a big shot you are, without a poster you don’t exist.” So declares Rajesh, the focal point of Party Poster, a funny, pointed short by Rishi Chandna. It’s set in Bandra West, Mumbai in August 2020. A laundry association is putting up a Ganeshotsav poster and for a few enterprising locals like Rajesh, getting on it might mean catching the eye of a politician higher up the chain. In a witty sequence, we see Rajesh on the phone with the poster designer, as the size of the other people and Ganesh himself is reduced and Rajesh’s is increased. It’s also a matter of prestige for people who don’t have many opportunities to stand out from a crowd in their daily lives. Another man asks his young boy while ironing clothes whether he has any likes for sharing the poster on his Facebook page.
This 20-minute film is also a snapshot of India at the height of covid. Rajesh must make space on the poster for medical warnings. There are shots of discarded masks and announcements to maintain physical distance. Someone shows off his ‘scarf mask’, worn “just like PM Modi”. The revelers pray to Ganesh to save them from the pandemic, a lighthearted injunction that nevertheless suggests what a torrid time the country was underdoing.
Party Poster has been to several festivals this year, and will be available online at The New York Times: Op-Docs from 21 November. In his 2018 short Tungrus, Chandna showed a dry, distinct sense of humour and a good eye for eccentricity and detail – qualities his new film has as well. It would be interesting what he could do with a longer runtime. — Uday Bhatia
A long-awaited earworm
I have wanted to love one of Amrit Ramnath’s non-Carnatic tracks for a while now. The young indie artist who also collaborates with, and composes for, Bombay Jayashri, his mother, guru and famous Carnatic classical artist, has been trying other genres too. To my ear, however, these projects are tinged with an identity crisis. They also don’t suit his voice, so thin yet crystal. Finally, though, he has delivered, and how! His new single, Manase, with brilliant bass by Naveen Napier and harmonies with Purva Dhanashree, gives Ramnath’s voice the space it needs to play. The Tamil lyrics by Mathuranthaki are a little unclear in parts but his inspiring and endearing first line makes up for it: kaadoram sadugudu sattham (there’s a little tune at my ear). This one has been in mine all week. — Vangmayi Parakala
All things spice
Teas are a relatively recent addition to the roster of Diwali gifts, a welcome change from the umpteenth box of kaju katli (thankfully, looks like people heard us dissing soan papri). Vahdam’s Chai Tea Private Reserve Gift Set with three blends—Ginger Chai Spiced Black Tea, Maharani Chai Spiced Oolong Tea and Sweet Cinnamon Masala Chai Tea—is certainly going to be used a lot this winter. The warm, hearty blends almost made me forget to cringe at the “Chai Tea” nomenclature—almost. — Shrabonti Bagchi
Scottish craft beer brand BrewDog recently opened its third brewpub in India and its first in the National Capital Region. The BrewDog at Gurugram’s One Horizon Centre, Phase 5, Golf Course Road, is a treat for any craft beer lover. On a recent visit, I tasted some of the brews, including the “Punk IPA” and a wheat beer that was really light on the palate. While there are only a limited number of beers available currently, this is expected to change soon. The interiors reflect an industrial feel and the food menu is not bad either, with some interesting takes on classic fries and “naan bombs”, among other things. Don’t forget to ask for a beer tasting. The samplers are a good way to get started and choose a beer of your liking. What’s exciting is that this is a pet-friendly brewery. — Nitin Sreedhar