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Last week Srinivasan Rajagopal who blogs about ‘plagiarism in the visual arts‘ linked to some posts I had done on movie poster/font rip-offs – and that set off a huge IMPA binge. I found a lot of stuff that looked like other stuff – rip-offs, tributes, parodies, whatever, and I decided to bite the blog that fed me a lot of traffic and start my own balposh section, blogging about stuff that looks like other stuff.

So, here goes (following Srini’s convention, the poster on the right came first)dreamcatcherpianist_ver3

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I started composing a post titled Bell’s Belles on my misadventures with call centre chicks, learnt that today is Bell’s birthday, Googled, stumbled upon Saul Bass who designed the iconic AT&T Bell System logo, also many famous movie posters, and title sequences for films such as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, which incidentally inspired the opening sequence of Catch Me If You Can, the movie based on the misadventures of Frank Abagnale Jr. Where was I? Gotta stop this hyperlinked stream-of-consciousness stuff.

If you are a movie buff and a quizzer, chances are you are familiar with ‘Six Degrees of Bacon’. The game is very simple. You select a film star, and connect him to Kevin Bacon, in six links or less. The game’s name is a pun on the concept of Six Degress of Separation (“anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries” source).

Game Demo:
Clint Eastwood was in Space Cowboys (2000) with Marcia Harden
Marcia Harden was in Rails & Ties (2007) with Kevin Bacon
(2 links)

Mammootty was in Kandukondain Kandukondain(2000) with Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya Rai was in Singularity (2008) with Brendan Fraser
Brendan Fraser was in The Air I Breathe (2007) with Kevin Bacon
(3 links)

Clark Gable was in The Misfits (1961) with Eli Wallach
Eli Wallach was in Mystic River (2003) with Kevin Bacon
(2 links)

(Bacon is at the Centre of the Movie Universe. Not convinced? Check out University of Virginia’s Oracle of Bacon)

The game has helped me survive many seminars and training sessions over the years. And in the good old days before Google and imdb, the pleasure of finding a link, after racking the brain for hours, can only be described using a word that my firewall wouldn’t approve.

It was a colleague of Velan who introduced me to Six Degrees.

Let us call her Diya. When I called up Velan’s office one day, I happened to speak to her – she had this lovely voice, with a hint of mischief. She was a great conversationalist, and I had time to kill. Soon Diya became a daily habit, I was spending hours on the phone, and dying to meet her. Finally, D-day, her birthday. She said she would wait for me in front of Adyar Bakery. I rode my KB to the Bakery, I saw her standing there, took a U-turn and disappeared…well, almost. To cut a long story short, we became friends, very good friends.

Around that time, a girl working with Diya and her college sweet-heart decided to get married, against the wishes of both their families. Typical Hindi padam: Rich boy – poor girl, Vadakkan boy – TamBram girl, Anupam Kher – Amrish Puri. The boy was going abroad for his MS and wanted to tie the knot before he left. The kids were broke and their friends were scared to support them because of Amrish Puri. Diya decided to sponsor the wedding but asked me to front the operation.

After a week of hectic preparations…Inside Kapaleeshwar Temple. Almost muhurtham. Friends and colleagues hanging around. The lovely couple, he in a sherwani, she in kancheevaram, before getting on the stage, they dive for my feet, and I flee.

PS, posted a day later: I now realize that the last line was a subconscious tribute to one of my favourite books, Catch 22, which ends with “The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off“. Six Degrees of Separation again?

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“You probably don’t know John Alvin by name, but if you’ve stepped foot in the cinema anytime in the last 30 years you know his work. He was a poster artist that was responsible for some of the most iconic poster work of not only my generation, but the generation before mine, going back to some of Mel Brooks’ earlier movies.” (from Ain’t It Cool News. Also check out the NY Times tribute)

John Alvin designed the posters for 135 movies including Aladdin, Arachnophobia, Beauty & the Beast, Cocoon, Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, ET, Hook, Lion King and Blazing Saddles (his debut).

More Alvin posters available at the Internet Movie Poster Awards – worth a visit especially if you have had days when the posters in the lobby gave you more pleasure than the main feature.

Vaal kashnam – Balposh is Sangham-speak for Wall Poster

Recently we dropped in on Vinu and Sindhu. After the inevitable rounds about family, friends and REC, the talk drifted to movies and movie stars. Sindhu asked me who my fav Tamil actor is and I said ‘Kamalahasan’.

Sindhu: I should have known. You look a bit like him…

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Flashback. 1992. I shaved off my mush, and my friend Shobhana was like, “Mallu, you look like Guna”. Wow! Shaving-off-my-mush…and waiting for some guy to go, “You know, you look a bit like Kamal” became an annual ritual for me.

Then one day, mush-less, I entered the office, and the gang went…“Tada Tada Tada Tada…Avvai Shanmukhi…”

(Avvai Shanmukhi = Chachi 420, hence this post qualifies for the ‘Series 42’ stamp given to posts about my fav stuff – thought you would like to know)

OK, that was a little excessive, but then i did get a reply from Vimala Raman…

Visit Vimala Raman’s official website.
The site has a huge collection of Vimala Raman pics, movie stills, videos…


Check out Chak De India, the first Bollywood movie starring three Mallu girls – Anaitha Nair (of 5S fame), Arya Menon and Nisha Nair…

Click here for the Malayala Manorama article (2 Sep ’07).

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