The music | A great beginning
Classic rock aficionados will tell you there’s nothing original about playing the electric guitar with the bow of a violin or a cello — after all, they’ll insist, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin famously played the electric guitar on ‘Dazed and Confused’ with a cello bow. So they might pooh-pooh Jónsi Birgisson, front man of Sigur Rós, whose bowed guitar playing is one of the hallmarks of the band’s sound, for having copied the idea from Page.
However, keep an open mind and compare Page’s playing — raucous, gimmicky and imprecise — to Birgisson’s dreamy, soundscape-filling approach and you’ll realise why the latter is now hailed as one of the foremost exponents of the bowed guitar.
Sigur Rós, an Icelandic band whose sound is usually described as ambient post-rock with minimalist and classical elements, has been in existence since 1994. However, it was only in 1999, when they released Ágætis Byrjun, that the world sat up and took notice of this unassuming quartet which comprises Georg Hólm (bass), Kjartan Sveinsson (synthesizers), Orri Páll Dýrason (drums, percussion) and Birgisson (lead vocals, bowed guitar).
Aside from the bowed guitar, it was Birgisson’s haunting falsetto that made the band stand out. Their unconventional approach to production also helped. For example, in the song ‘Ný Batterí’ (New Batteries), there is a distinct cymbal that sounds like it has been distorted electronically — in reality, the band used an actual cymbal they found on the streets of downtown Reykjavík which had been driven over by a car and was, therefore, bent out of shape.
Today, Sigur Rós have a cult following. Their song ‘Festival’ was featured in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and their fans reportedly include the likes of Brad Pitt, Thom Yorke and Tom Cruise. However, while their music has grown more accessible over the years, listen to Ágætis Byrjun to listen for yourself where it all began.
— Suprateek Chatterjee
The film | The kids aren’t alright
Michael Haneke has a vicious mind, and he wants you to know it.In this film, a little Protestant village in Germany becomes the target of a series of brutal pranks, none of which are particularly funny (one of them involves an impaled parakeet). The straitlaced hamlet is ruled by its resident Baron, the village pastor, and the doctor. Its children are tied to the bed-post for touching themselves indecently, and are sent to bed without supper if they come back home late.
Throughout the film, one gets the feeling the children are behind the vicious pranks because they know no better — they are taught morality but not how to practise it with empathy.
The film is set against the backdrop of the imminent First World War. It is shot in pristine black and white, which, one imagines, is employed to heighten the village’s unique approach to child-rearing. Even the title is based on this symbolism — the pastor’s wife would tie a white ribbon around her children’s arms to remind them of their innocence, a practise that was done away with, until the children start acting up again.
Haneke has said that the film is an allegory for terrorism. However, terrorism is inherently grandiose – there is no point to it if the terrorist does not claim credit for his or her depredations. But in this film, nobody claims credit – there is no grinning Joker who leaves a card at the scene of crime, nor is there a letter to the editor, challenging the authorities to track down the miscreant. Whoever is carrying out these pranks seems to be doing it for satisfaction.
He or she is never discovered, and the narrator (the village schoolteacher) leaves the village, never to return. War is declared, and suddenly, despite the growing disquiet in the village, its vicious little imps must go and take on the world.
This film is a compelling parable to parents on how the birds-and-the-bees talk should be handled with care, rather than a cane.
— Karthik Balasubramanian
virtually there | localbanya.com
A new stock market
In the past two weeks, Gayatri Sharma, a 28-year-old strategy consultant, has ordered groceries thrice. However, instead of going to her neighbourhood grocer, she ordered them from LocalBanya.com, a three-week old website.
"Their service is excellent, their prices beat those of local vendors and they stock exotic fruits and vegetables which are otherwise hard to get," says the Juhu resident.
Technology has made yet another chore simpler and quicker. With LocalBanya, an online convenience store, one can order home supplies at ease.
This website offers various grocery items of most major brands. Availing of the website’s services requires registration and ordering products worth at least Rs. 500.
Aside from being convenient, it’s also quick. The supplies are delivered at your doorstep on the next day, free of cost, across Mumbai.
Through their Facebook page, LocalBanya also offers special deals and discounts on Mondays and Fridays. For instance, last Friday, onions and potatoes were sold at the unbelievable rate of Rs. 3 per kg.
The website will soon be introducing an express delivery feature where the supplies will be delivered on the same day as the order.
Order household supplies while on Facebook, or on Twitter, or from office, anytime. If something you want isn’t listed, write to them and suggest products that you would like to see in the aisles of this virtual supermarket.
— Sindhu Mansukhani