A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Crabbengoyle? Or Crabbe and Goyle?

I have been planning this post since I came across a brilliant one dissecting the dissimilarities between Fred and George Weasley. The topic had passed my mind completely, but thankfully it resurfaced on a Sunday afternoon.

Barring Fred and George, there were characters in the entire series who were always referred to as a pair; they lived together (at least in the view of the readers), and just like the Weasley twins, they died separately: Crabbe and Goyle.

While Fred’s death made a lot of people cry (fine, I was one of them), few remember Crabbe’s (barring the Fiendfyre bit, that is). This is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is the fact that Crabbe died and Goyle lived on (at least he outlived Crabbe) went almost unnoticed, and is seldom referred to.

Rowling decided to break the pair in death, for they were as dissimilar a pair that could be. Had there been no Draco, they would probably not have talked to each other despite their fathers being huge Death Eaters.

Here is why.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Crabbe and Goyle are introduced together: “Both of them were thickset and looked extremely mean. Standing on either side of the pale boy, they looked like bodyguards.” (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters)

So far, so good. It seems they were blissfully Crabbengoyle. But then, Draco decides to invade Harry and Ron’s stockpile of food, and invariably it is Goyle who lunges forward — and gets bitten by Scabbers (nice touch, a Death Eater warding off a former colleague’s son!).

Draco and Crabbe back out while Goyle gets bitten — an incident Ron fondly recollects in Prisoner of Azkaban. Is this where Rowling starts emphasising that even the 11-year old Crabbe has a brain of his own, unlike Goyle at the same age? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it is a one-off.

But that could have been an incident in passing. Draco and Crabbengoyle are happily acting model Slytherin students till The Midnight Duel, when Draco challenges Harry to a wizard’s duel. While Ron nominates himself as Harry’s second, Draco names Crabbe as his.

Crabbe. Not Goyle. This single choice is enough to suggest that Crabbe has already proved the more reliable of the two, at least in the eyes of the boy they hang around with. Goyle is the one who steps forward to snatch food. Crabbe is trusted as a duel second. Rowling has defined the roles by Philosopher’s Stone: both are oafs, but Crabbe is the more evil of the two, and Goyle the stupider.

If you still need proof of Goyle’s IQ level, here it is: “They had hoped that Goyle, who was almost as stupid as he was mean, might be thrown out, but he had passed, too.”(The Man with Two Faces)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This is the first mention of a Crabbe act when Goyle does nothing: “‘Eat slugs, Malfoy,’ said Ron angrily. Crabbe stopped laughing and started rubbing his knuckles in a menacing way.” (Gilderoy Lockhart)

Once again, Crabbe is being portrayed as the meaner of the two (was Ron’s statement really worth a reaction?). This may also have been a coincidence.

Goyle, on the other hand, has certainly not turned reasonably brighter, and Harry chooses to target him in Potions class:

“Knowing he had only seconds, Harry straightened up, took aim, and lobbed it into the air; it landed right on target in Goyle’s cauldron. Goyle’s potion exploded, showering the whole class ... Goyle blundered around, his hands over his eyes, which had expanded to the size of a dinner plate.”

Comic relief? No, Rowling does not do that. But the fact that it was not Crabbe is perhaps relevant.

Chamber of Secrets also has a significant line in The Polyjuice Potion: “Crabbe and Goyle, who always did whatever Malfoy did, had signed up to stay over the holidays, too.” This will change over time.

It is to be noted that Goyle’s polyjuice potion is booger-coloured; Crabbe’s was “dark, murky brown”. You cannot miss the hint.

To add to Goyle’s image, an amused Ron mentions how bizarre it is to see Goyle thinking. The chasm deepens.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Rowling decides to give Crabbe and Goyle more well-defined, distinct looks. Is this where she makes up her mind to show they are not Crabbenhoyle? Are these descriptions deliberate? “Crabbe was taller, with a pudding-bowl haircut and a very thick neck; Goyle had short, bristly hair and long, gorilla-ish arms.” (The Dementor)

Fast-forward to Snape’s Grudge. Harry turns up in Hogsmeade, thanks to the Marauder’s Map and invisibility cloak. Thanks to his general idiocy he cannot resist throwing mud at Draco.

Almost immediately only Crabbe jumps into action. It is Crabbe who lunges for the invisible source; it is Crabbe’s foot that makes the cloak slide off Harry’s face, albeit momentarily and involuntarily. Goyle remains a spectator. Maybe the entire concept of retaliation does not occur to him.

On a side note, Prisoner of Azkaban also mentions their full names for the first time in the series.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Goblet of Fire renders the pair to near-uselessness, but they do have their moments. There is a minor yet subtle discrimination, right after Moody (once again, a Death Eater tormenting his former colleague’s son) turns Draco into a ferret: “... Crabbe, who had just frozen, about to pick up the white ferret.” (Mad-Eye Moody)

Harry and Draco battle a duel in The Weighing of the Wands, where the spells ricochet off each other. While Draco’s spell resulted in huge teeth for Hermione, Harry’s hits Goyle, whose face “resembled something that would have been at home in a book on poisonous fungi.”

Once again, the ubiquitous stupid oaf.

Goyle gets into the thick of things again, trying to steal leprechaun gold in The Madness of Mr Crouch. It was perhaps a Crabbe thing to do, but then, getting caught by Hagrid is something only Goyle can achieve.

Then, again, Rita Skeeter’s Scoop publishes a Draco interview: “‘I was attacked by a hippogriff, and my friend Vincent Crabbe got a bad bite off a flobberworm.’” When cornered by Harry, Crabbe “was sniggering, apparently very pleased with himself”.

See the emerging difference?

The most amusing bit comes at the end of the book, where both Crabbe sr and Goyle sr are summoned by Voldemort. They are the largest in the gang, and as expected, they stand together and act rather clumsily.

How come the fathers are also inseparable? Is this Crabbengoyle thing genetic?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The first reference is a passing mention of Goyle, where Ron happily dreams getting him to do lines: “I... must... not... look... like... a... baboon’s... backside...” (Luna Lovegood)

Crabbe and Goyle both make it to the Slytherin Quidditch team (how?), both as Beaters. The difference in their performances is too obvious to overlook: while Crabbe bothers Harry multiple times during the clash.

Crabbe even hits Harry with a Bludger after Harry grabs the Snitch, triggering a series of events. Do note the disdain towards rules and the vengeful attitude.

Within a couple of minutes Harry and George are sprinting to pounce upon Draco in full public view. Crabbe is seen “cackling in the background”.

Goyle hardly gets a mention. Once again, Crabbe seems the more determined of the two. The best he can manage is to hit Katie with a seemingly harmless Bludger.

The stage is set. There is no Crabbengoyle anymore. When Umbridge visits Hagrid’s class, she picks out Goyle (why?) as the first candidate, enquiring of injuries. Goyle responds with “a stupid grin” before Draco steps in.

When Umbridge and the Inquisitorial Squad capture members of Dumbledore’s Army, Crabbe holds Neville in a near-fatal grip (Neville “looked in imminent danger of suffocation”).

Thankfully, Snape intervenes: “Crabbe, loosen your hold a little, if Longbottom suffocates it will mean a lot of tedious paperwork, and I am afraid I shall have to mention it on your reference if ever you apply for a job.” (Out of the Fire)

[Was it me, or did others find a shade of Roger from Lord of the Flies in Crabbe?]

Goyle is nowhere (too dumb to be even included?).

Rowling, that genius of an author, now throws in another seemingly harmless mention, this time at Ministry of Magic. Lucius organises the Death Eaters to chase the schoolchildren, he commands Jugson, Bellatrix, Rodolphus, Crabbe, Rabastan, Dolohov, Macnair, Avery, Rookwood, Mulciber ... but no Goyle.

No, the fathers are not Crabbengoyle either.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The duo makes their first appearance in Half-Blood Prince on the train (The Slug Club). Crabbe is reading a comic. Goyle is doing nothing. How unusual.

Draco’s plan unfolds as the book goes on, as does the difference between Crabbe and Goyle. Hermione’s Helping Hand has a line from Hermione: “Crabbe had a shrunken hand confiscated”. The hand is apparently a dark object. Crabbe is finding a parallel way into the dark world on his own. He is not going to remain Draco’s minion.

Throughout the book we see Crabbe’s disdain towards Draco increase. He questions, even challenges Draco. After all, Lucius and Crabbe sr are on the same boat at this time.

“Malfoy had flushed a dull pink; he looked furious as he stepped away from Crabbe, with whom he appeared to have been having a whispered argument.” (Birthday Surprises)

“...Malfoy, who was taking advantage of the general upheaval to continue his argument with Crabbe, standing five feet away and looking mutinous.” (Birthday Surprises)

“I heard him telling Crabbe it wasn’t Crabbe’s business what he was doing... so what’s he telling all these... all these...” (Harry to Ron and Hermione, The Unknowable Room)

Goyle, obviously, is not smart enough for all this, but he has a wonderful moment, albeit not of as significance as those of Crabbe. Harry spots Goyle (disguised as a girl) on the Marauder’s Map, tiptoes up to him, and asks him: “Hello... you’re very pretty, aren’t you?”

The filmmakers should be admonished by the world for not using the following scene: “Goyle gave a high-pitched scream of terror, threw the scales up into the air, and sprinted away, vanishing from sight long before the sound of the scales smashing had stopped echoing around the corridor.”(The Unknowable Room)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Before I begin this, here is a surprise fact: Crabbe and Goyle have not spoken (technically they have, but the reader has not overheard them) in the first six books.

For a moment I thought Goyle is turning into a Crabbe. As Neville says, Crabbe and Goyle love performing the Cruciatus Curse instead of detentions. But then, Goyle was never a Crabbe.

Fred and George were not Fredngeorge. But then, they were not stark opposites of each other the way Crabbe and Goyle turned out to be in The Battle of Hogwarts. This is how things panned out in the Room of Requirements:

What Crabbe does

1. Tells Harry they had stayed back to capture him and hand him over to Voldemort.
2. Tries to bring the wall down with descendo, presumably to harm Harry.
3. Participates in this conversation that was, in hindsight, more spine-chilling than most. The conversation, along with the string of events that precede (Half-Blood Prince) or follow this, prove one thing: Draco cannot kill; Crabbe can.
Draco: No! If you wreck the room you might bury this diadem thing!
Crabbe: What’s that matter? It’s Potter the Dark Lord wants, who cares about a die-dum?
Draco: Potter came in here to get it, so that must mean —
Crabbe: Must mean? Who cares what you think? I don’t take your orders no more, Draco. You an’ your dad are finished.
4. Attempts the Cruciatus Curse on Harry.
5. Clearly mentions he has no hesitation whatsoever in killing Harry.
6. Actually tries to kill Hermione: Avada Kedavra, no less. Misses.
7. Tries to kill Ron. Misses again.
8. Unleashes Fiendfyre.
9. Destroys the diadem unknowingly
10. Dies.

What Goyle does

1. Says this absurdly cute line for someone in a war: “We was hiding in the corridor outside. We can do Diss-lusion Charms now! And then you turned up right in front of us and said you was looking for a die-dum! What’s a die-dum?”
2. Loses his wand.
3. Is stunned by Hermione.
4. Is dragged on to a broomstick (still unconscious) by Ron and Hermione. Draco clutches Goyle in his arms (did anyone notice this?) till they are rescued.

So, do you still think they were Crabbengoyle? 


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lord Gajendra Chauhan, Khuli Khidki, and FTII

Gajendra Chauhan, doyen of Indian cinema, has recently been appointed Chairman of FTII, much to the dismay of the students, who have gone as far as to launch a protest against the decision. 

Somewhat surprisingly, certain actors (mostly nobodies like Anupam Kher and Rishi Kapoor) have come up with inexplicable objections, blasting out at Lord Chauhan for reasons fathomable only to them.

Jealousy? Maybe.

But this is not a post aimed at the stars who are united in protest against Lord Chauhan. This blog post is aimed at the students, who have been blessed with the finest Chairman in the history of the famed Institute.

For those lambasting at the Government for Lord Chauhan's appointment, here is a simple question: how many of you have actually seen Lord Chauhan at his on-screen best (beyond Mahabharat, of course)?

Today, on this blog post, I will prove the pedigree of Lord Chauhan as an actor. The movie I choose as my exhibit is Khuli Khidki, in which Lord Chauhan has pulled off one of those path-breaking performances others can merely dream of.

Being a statistician by qualification (and not by much else), I am aware of the fact that a small sample is not sufficient, more so because the knives will come out if I go wrong. Hence, I have selected a handful of videos from the movie.

Unlike most movies of the era, Khuli Khidki does not have a story — but then, a Lord Chauhan starrer does not need one. He is a story himself, an institution, the best that has been.

This is where it all starts. Chauhan, playing Avinash in the movie, makes his appearance. Do note the subtlety he uses to make the smooth transition from 'Madam' to 'Nisha' — a perfect example for us mortals who never manage to to talk women up...

This, students, is what they call style. Look at the panache with which he carries himself, both on the dance floor and otherwise. The costume designer has helped him out, but you know who has pulled the scene off, do you not?

This is the iconic 'Eyes scene of Khuli Khidki' that you may have heard about but have never come across. Though history remembers it as the 'eyes scene', his expressions subsequent to his entry are just as gripping.

History does not present everyone with the opportunity of seeing a topless Lord Chauhan in what is the shortest pair of boxers or the longest underwear in the history of mankind (we are yet to figure out which one). You should consider yourself fortunate.

The 'hands scene', remember? We have all tried to emulate this. Lord Chauhan pulls off a stunner here: acting schools often teach that managing hands is often considered the most difficult part of acting; our hero has solved this perennial problem by keeping his hands completely still throughout this scene.

A lesson in modulation: closely observe how Lord Chauhan changes his tone while talking to the accountant and his wife.

This particular scene was supposed to be dominated by two women trying to pass the Bechdel test (and failing miserably), but not for the first time, Lord Chauhan owns the scene.

Once again, the costume designer has played a crucial role here. Do note the brilliance of the dialogues as well — but then, they would not have had the same essence if they had not picturised on Lord Chauhan!

You have seen him act. but this is on another echelon. In another country he would have been named the most irresistible (beware, ladies) hunk on the third planet of the Solar System, but Bollywood could never do justice to the man.

PS: Watch how he obtains a confession. 1.50 to 2.05 will do.

The scene where he brings the audience to tears despite his restrained performance. Do note how he sends out a message for the average Indian citizen towards the end.

Critics are yet to fathom whether this scene is serious or comic.

Do note the perfect use of the revolving chair during the telephonic conversation.

If you want to see the best of Lord Chauhan, look no further. This is where you get a clear view of his torso. This is where he saves a woman (who was, admittedly, pretending). This is where he pulls off some of the most spectacular dance moves. He even whistles a tune — all in the span of less than four minutes.

The 'Halaao' that no one can play just once. Admit it, you did play it twice, didn't you?

The Lord at his drunken best...

... and in a murderous mood. You do not want to mess with him in this mood, trust me.

And finally, after what it seemed like hours of stiffling suspense, the murder.

If you play the villain, what better way to prove yourself than take on the antagonist of The Greatest Story Ever Told — the man who played probably the most iconic villain in the history of the industry?

A gem of a sequence. What happens next? Can Vijay save the world? Or will Avinash triumph? You need to watch Khuli Khidki to find out.

But till then, students, withdraw your protests. You have been given the privilege of access to one of the greatest actors of all time. Do not squander the opportunity. Do not let them deprive you of the honour of your life being blessed by the legend.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

10 reasons I will die in Mumbai: No. 4 will blow your mind away!

Not really. I have no intention to die with vada paav as my last meal. This was just an attempt to click-bait you. If you have fallen for this, I do not pity you, for you are stupider than the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

This post will be a forced one, mostly written with the intention to resurrect my blog, which has not expressed any desire to die with something as obnoxious as vada paav appearing multiple times on its last post either. However, the attempt may be a feeble one.

Language update: I have learned that books are called pustak in Marathi. This is certainly a novelty for me, since Bengali, Hindi, and Sanskrit are the only other languages I know in which the word pustak is used for books. I got so excited when I got to know this that I added three books to my amazon wish-list and updated my friends about it. As you can see, all is well till they start selling pustak paav.

Amazon update: Talking of amazon, I am finally happy. When I land on ‘books’ I do not have to see The Scion of Ikshvaku banner anymore. Amish has used a name so fantastic that I cannot even make a pun on it. The book features a child Lakshman and an adult Ram, which is unfathomable, for Ramayana had taught me that Kaushalya and Sumitra had their kheer (*cough cough*) almost simultaneously. Anyway.

Book update: Talking of books, I read Gerald’s Game, a Stephen King novel that left me shaken (not literally) inside out at two in the morning and kept me awake till at least three despite the fact that it features a dog called Prince.

Fauna update: Talking of critters, the pigeon population of Navi Mumbai has increased tenfold over the past week. I am not exaggerating. It is time for the paav sellers to invest in pigeon paav, which will solve multiple problems at the same time.

Investment update: Talking of investments, I have made National Insurance Company Limited richer for the 15th year in succession. I hope some good comes out of this.

Health update: Talking of health, I have been told I do not lead a healthy lifestyle. Going to bed at three on a daily basis is apparently not the best of practises. But then, when do I get to read horror novels?

Horror update: Talking of horror, had called me at work (there were at least two witnesses) to ask whether I really wanted a babysitter. I tried my level best to convince them I did not, really or otherwise, but I do not think they were convinced. I suspected a ploy, but could not think of a proper reason.

Ploy update: Talking of ploys, a Bank XYZ representative tried to convince me to open a savings account with them. When I pointed out that I already have an XYZ savings account and there was probably an error in their database, XYZ told me that they were providing me with a savings account because my name had been shortlisted. I pointed out again that I already have an XYZ savings account. This confused the representative so much that she transferred it to her manager. I hung up.

Representative update: Talking of representatives, they singled me out to hand out leaflets featuring advertisements of health loss centres whenever I crossed Gariahat. I never blamed them. Things took a U-turn when a sincere-looking youth, probably around 25, offered me one with Mahesh Tutorials written over them outside Vashi Station. I probably look like a college student these days.

College student update: Talking of college students, CricketCountry is hiring interns. If you are interested in internships, are really active on social media, and can tell Shahid Afridi from MS Dhoni, send me an email at you-know-where. Chances are that you may end up getting paid for being on Twitter and Facebook all day, get to watch cricket at work, listen to Rameez Raja, and more. You will need to work out of the Vashi office.

That, my friends, is how you sneak in a free advertisement.

Cricket update: Talking of cricket, this is going to be my first Ashes in a newsroom, and for whatever reason I feel more pumped up than I was before the World Cup. As for the Australians, they ran into Jesse Ryder, who started his innings with 04464444, or in other words, 30 from the first 8 balls he faced. There is a reason why I rate him the most talented batsman I have seen. I am being honest.

Honesty update: Talking of honesty reminds me of Yudhisthir, which, in turn, reminds me of Gajendra Chauhan. When Anand Patwardhan (Google him) mentioned that Chauhan acted in ‘soft pornography’, the FTII Director was quick to point out that his movies were “certified adult films, not soft porn”.

Soft porn update: Talking of soft porn, the trailer of the new Madhur Bhandarkar movie* Calendar Girls indeed looks like one. It stars five or six scantily clad actresses I have probably never seen before, and I already know what the storyline. Fivefold. Or maybe sixfold. At least Corporate starred Bipasha Basu.

*The movie is new, not Mr Bhandarkar.

Movie update: Talking of movies, I got to see Inside Out, yet another Pixar masterpiece, all by myself (heh, heh). This is almost certainly the best Pixar movie since Toy Story 3. This also makes it the best since Nokia stopped making phones with QWERTY keypads. The only exception to this anti-QWERTY rule is Nokia Asha, which has as many features as Nokia 5110 sans the feel of a murder weapon.

Stop update: This is it.