I got teased by Nick Cave last week. A fortnight before his new studio album with The Bad Seeds, titled Push the Sky Away, was to be released , he released a video of one of the songs, Jubilee Street. It stars the English actor, Ray Winstone, whom you may have watched in many movies playing tough, gritty roles. He’s been in tons of movies but my favourite Winstone movie is Sexy Beast from 2000 where as a retired burglar and an ex-convict, he is being menacingly coaxed by Ben Kingsley (who plays a former associate) to pull off another heist. I’ve a DVD of Sexy Beast somewhere and sometimes while looking for other films, I discover it and before long it’s running on my TV screen. Winstone is great in the movie but Kingsley as a violent sociopath is super – a far cry from his role in Gandhi! Read more

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Leaving a city that you’ve visited and liked is never a happy experience, however short your sojourn to that place might have been. You feel low and wish you’d have had some more time to spend there. And if it’s a city as vibrant and as much a blend of the old and new as Berlin is, the sadness is greater. So it wasn’t with buoyant spirits that we boarded the taxi to go to the airport that afternoon. The music playing inside the cab was soothing. It was a piano sonata. Mozart’s in A minor, and the cabbie turned around to ask us whether we wanted it changed. I looked at my only co-passenger, my eight-year-old daughter, and asked her if it was fine. Yes, she pensively nodded. Read more

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Hip-hop and rap are not a natural choice of genres for me when I’m looking for something to listen to. In fact, I find much of hip-hop’s lyrics too full of violence, sexism and needless vulgarity. And very, very few hip-hop or rap artists—even those whom everybody seems to laud—appear to me to be good writers, rhymers or lyricists. That doesn’t mean I don’t like some of what the genre offers. Among contemporary bands, I really liked Das Racist, the alternative hip hop band from Brooklyn that features two MCs of Indian origin (I did gush about them in this column in the past). I also loved the much older Gang Starr, a duo comprising the late MC Guru and DJ Premier (I gushed about them too when Guru died a couple of years back). Read more

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There was a time when I used to like rap. And hip-hop. I liked the attitude, the ever so often NSFW lyrics, the inherent anger and sometimes – not always, though – the wit and self-deprecation. Of course, the bass-lines and the scratching added to the experience. And I liked rappers’ willingness to collaborate with other rappers and feature them as guests on their recordings. It was like a whole different community, replete with intense, often violent, rivalry but also with a curious kind of camaraderie. Read more

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