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Tuesday, June 01st, 2010 | Author:

Once upon a time, I decided to shoot how seriously people work in a company named Veda Informatics. We wanted to shoot people’s focus towards their work, how they met deadlines and how they adhered to the age old theorem which says Work is God. However, the video became a goof up as we could not find any serious stuff, however, wat we did find was one of the most important truth of professional life. We named this journey as In Search of Some Serious Stuff.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 | Author:

Having watched this film last night, all I can say is that I wish life would’ve ended somewhere during the first 20 minutes of the movie. I wasn’t warned at all. It was a toss up between watching Kurbaan and 2012 and I thought an English movie would end sooner!!! Well, now I know better!!!

If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what I mean when I say that I was hoping for a real earthquake or even a minor cataclysm to relieve me!!! It was like watching a Hindi movie that boasts the emotive prowess of Dharmendra, Pankaj Parashar and Kumar Gaurav, set off by the acting talent of Zeenat Aman, Poonam Dhillon and Ranjita. If you belong to my generation, you will know what I mean.

John Cusack is not only looking old and fat, his mouth is slowly shrinking into a full stop. The only time his face breaks into an expression is when he has to say really long words like “shifting tectonic plates.” After all, one can say “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE” while making sure you don’t crack the face paint at all. Try it – you can do it without moving your lips. And Cusack has perfected this technique.

The box office collections for 2012 finally moved me to watching the film. But the story line was more predictable than a B-grade Govinda movie. Let me give you an example. This massive volcano erupts and throws up hot ash and lava all over the place, always barely missing Mr. Cusack and company – just like the bad guys shooting at Govinda while he miraculously dodges each bullet.

The only thing unpredictable about the film was its length!!! And boy, was it long. When they stopped the film for intermission, I was surprised, to say the least. I had been thinking that we were almost done with all the quaking and flooding of the world. Imagine my consternation when I realized we were only half-way through!!!

The only thing the film has going for it, to be completely fair, is its amazing graphic artists. In fact, if we take out the actors and the plot, the special effects and computer graphics might make the film more watchable. All I can say is that the Mayans were wrong. The world will die of boredom in 2009.

Don’t complain – Now You Have Been Warned!!!

Category: Reviews  | Tags: , ,  | 3 Comments
Monday, November 16th, 2009 | Author:

Before some grand disaster in the form of Tsunami, earthquake, plague, hurricane, some pandemic or for that matter alien invasion, that can wrap up the entire civilization, we should start taking responsibility of what we do today. In the overall scheme of things, this post-apocalypse narrative could be a piece of fiction, but why should it stop us from not polluting the world anymore and taking a noble initative to plant few more trees. Save Earth

Finally end of the world- 2012 strikes gold at the box office on Friday the 13th, shattering the myth, cinema screens all across Delhi ran a sold out show this weekend. The film is about pre and post deluge imaginative mise en scène where three high-tech, state-of-the-art picked from the book of Genesis’s portrayal of the Noah’s ark headed ‘no-where’ to rescue remainder of the human civilization launched from the roof of the world. Roland Emmerich’s translation of the Mayan calendar prediction that world is coming to an end on 12-21-12 is massive blockbuster already. Scientist’s at NASA and elsewhere can corner the story as a piece of fiction but for the urban goer it is a future imagination running wild in your head sci-fi flick. Ofcourse the computer generated special effects team is to be blamed for this temporary deluge in our minds. Danny Glover does well to interpret, the whole cause of cataclysm which threatens to disembowel human race majorly the solar flares that burns up earth’s core to an extent that earth’s crust becomes unstable and shifts, violently, leading to mother of all, thousands of Tsunami like effects. Okay, all this story telling business, I am leaving upto the readers, because I have something else to talk about.

For me, the film had a lot of topical reasons to watch, the opening shot is in a mining field in the Eastern India (2009), where an Indian astrophysicist Dr. Satnam Tsurutani, played by UK-Indian actor Jimi Mistry, tips his fellow American scientist friend Adrian (Chiwetel Ejiofor) about a doomsday and reasons why he and others should start checking their clocks more often. Apparently, Madhu Koda, the Chhattisgarh CM accused of laundering millions of money from the Iron and copper mines undergoes intense interrogation by sleuths.

The earthquake scenes, in the film, the African-American president Thomas Wilson aka Danny Glover decides to stay in the Capitol Hill alongside fellow Americans. Whereas the Air force One, heads towards Tibet. Nobel Prize winner and current US president Mr. Barack Obama, is in China today to discuss peace and business, I guess.

In the film, Tibetans monks were shown getting back to the working mould to construct a ship read (Noah’s Ark). Last week, Dalai Lama, the supreme commander of Tibetan cause was asked to restrict his movements from Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh) by the Indian government.

Does all that sound, funny? Maybe yes, I am not sure, but watching the whole of California sliding in the Pacific’s, the Yellowstone completely destroyed by an hydrogen-bomb-like explosion, LA skyscrapers twisting and tumbling like a pack of cards, the White House, engulfed by a fighter war ship, the Vatican crashing into the ground and finally gigantic tidal waves swamping the Indian peninsula is a visual treat. I am not a wise spender, I know that and I am working on that front, but I also do not contemplate spending 500 bucks at PVR near you. My paisa is wasooled.

Sunday, May 10th, 2009 | Author:

One can’t be apologetic for being successful but, Is Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire truly worth getting 8 Oscars?

Remember Parinda? A Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s mega hit movie. If you will go through the movie again you will find Slumdog’s Jamal, his brother Salim and his girlfriend Latika is the replica of Parinda’s Karan (Anil Kapoor), Kishen (Jakie Shroff) and Paro (Madhuri Dixit) respectively, who rose from Mumbai slums. Parinda was even Indian official entry for 1990 Academy Awards in the best foreign film category but didn’t win the Oscar.

I was besides myself with joy when I saw A.R.Rahman getting 2 Oscars for the same movie but that very time one thing struck my mind that is Jai Ho (Slumdog millionaire song) the best song he composed ever? It seemed to me that those block heads are really carrying coal to castle because there are many A. R. Rahman’s songs which are well worth of an Oscar.

In the movie Lagaan The English were grievously in charge of Indian’s life in ruin. But when twist of fate occurred, pride hath a fall and the restrained Indians took time by the forelock and succeeded with new fangled English men in their own National game Cricket, it was really a shameful event for them. Lagaan was nominated in parallel with Amelie, No Man’s Land, Son of the Bride and Elling. Yet, self praise is no recommendation but many of us found Lagaan much better than any of these movies or even Slumdog Millionaire but, in the view of Oscar’s jury Slumdog was worth getting 8 Oscars and Lagaan not even for one. It’s difficult to say whether it is their decision or obstinacy. Even after the Oscar ceremony Ashutosh Gawarikar said “Americans must learn to like our films”.

Yet Slumdog getting 8 Oscars had already created much ado about nothing but in my view this matter should not really be hushed up. We really need to make Oscar’s jury aware that we are seeing through their tricks and the decisions they are holding with is that, all they like to see is vehemently distraught Indians living in inferno, which Danny Boyle has perfectly caricaturized in Slumdog Millionaire.

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 | Author:

I heard several people bragging about the blue print they inherit helped them in becoming bards of power and how they liked to be enunciated as the great chip of the great block.

“What we accede to from our parents at parturition is a prototype which set us to a pre program course of instigation”, owing to this fact, we rather compare off springs to the parents though we all know every individual is unique.

The peculiar game of Gene is not only constricted to bringing our beauty and blight to the progeny but it is much more beyond anyone’s potential or imagination. Perhaps, the most powerful matter known ever.

Jurassic Park – a mega hit movie of Steven Spielberg was based on recreation possibilities of pre historic animals. In which the indispensable DNA of dinosaur was extracted from the amber of blood sucking creature, even in the movie “Sleeper”, Woody Allen had perfectly caricaturized Allan Wilson’s Endeavour experiment done over Quagga (Zebra like animal). In the movie a dead tyrant was cloned by his nose (the only part of his body remained).

Darwin Prockop (Molecular geneticist, Jefferson Medical College) had proposed to clone Abraham Lincoln from his blood stained shirt (preserved as national relic cell) and a hair strand with a follicle attached in it.

Although scientific reality is more thorny because a well preserved fossil probably contains rest than 9% of original DNA but, Gene therapy and Gene profiling can pull you through many disease and many problems with a great altitude of success, startlingly.

The Gene has a power to cast a spell; there will be no wonder if we see Albert Einstein in future.

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 | Author:

It is intermission and I am still waiting for the story to kick off. Considering the movie was supposed to be about the most lively part of my city, it can’t get worse.

Filmed on the setup of andarun shahar, ‘Delhi-6’ is seen from the eyes of Roshan Mehra [Chchota B (when will he grow up?)]. While Mr. Siddhu Khiladi did a Chandni Chowk to China last month, Roshan moves from New York to Old Delhi with his grandmother (Waheeda Wasted Rehman) and an accent (that pisses you off throughout the movie). Don’t worry. I am not going to reveal the story. The film does not have one. So, AB(CD) and grandma receive a grand welcome from their neighbors, known and unknown. Director Rakeysh Mehra tries to repeat Rang De‘s mixing concept by playing with the backdrop of Ramlila, but fails to execute the magic.

However, what hurts the most is a false image of one of the most historic places in the world. From the very first scene, the area is depicted as a storehouse of chaos. Till the end, the film doesn’t go beyond narrow kuchas and cycle-rickshaws. In contrast to the title song that talked of the city as one with two hearts, the place appears heartless. In the last fifteen minutes, the script mentions (thrice) that the essence of the place are its people. I wish we could see THAT Delhi-6. The steadiness of Purani Dilli, which is much more appealing than its commotion, is not captured by the camera. Instead, the film repeatedly mocks the life of the city. The manner in which the screenplay turns into a spoof about issues like superstitions, mob mentality, family traditions and communalism is unbearable.

The lead actors add to the misery of the viewer. Pawan Malhotra (the younger Sharma), Vijay Raaz (thullaa) and Divya Dutta (Jalebi) put up good performances. Rahman’s superb music (that inspired me to go for the movie) is a misfit to the standards of the film. Don’t make a Kaala Bandar of yourself by going for the movie. Instead, I recommend spend 3 hours wandering on the streets of Delhi-6. Taste the real life of Old Delhi. With the delectable offerings, those 100 bucks will be more than paisa-vasool.

Rating:*1/2

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 | Author:

I read somewhere that “the year 2009 will be a golden year in Indian cinema”. I do not really disagree with his statement. This remark comes from one of the most proficient script writer turned film maker in today’s time.

At Dev D, Love, booze and court dance was subtlety replaced by Sex, drugs plus rock n roll. The plot of the film stood at Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s Devdas where a post colonial weak kneed, drunkard Zamindar spends the rest of his life in a menace. Unbelievable acting, by the lead protagonists and great music score by a rookie. This coke snorting, use for nothing fella, bundles out cash after cash. Visits Old Delhi’s underground garage and ultimately finds himself at peace with Vodka and Leni. I was fuming at the director that how he can make a film of this nature, the same time dumbfound to see actor Abhay’s performance, brain cracking. During the film and after the film (I was not able to watch the last 20 minutes, I left the hall) me within, was asking continuously, how can children or men for that matter be so restless, wayward, lifeless, careless and errant? I felt like straightening him up, with whatever means i can. I came to know that the other woman’s character (Leni) was borrowed from the infamous DPS mobile phone girl. However, nothing of similar nature happened after that, or maybe I don’t know. What is the point in making a full length feature film out of in hindi and dishing out for public consumption? People may disagree with my thoughts, don’t really care. Again, I should give credits to the director and the actor who permeated so well inside the skin of the character that he was able to emote, so well.

After what has happened at Mangalore early this month. I don’t mind watching Dev D with the factions of Sri Ram Sena. Rather I would love to hear what they say. Dev D should be a valentine treat for them.

In the end I would say, Dev D had everything but life.

Friday, February 06th, 2009 | Author:

480BC in the narrow Thermopylae pass in the northern Greece 7 thousand of Greek soldiers waits to face the largest force ever assembled, over 300,000 soldiers of the Persian Empire. Greeks were led by the 300 deadliest fighters The Spartans, their job was to hold that pass or die trying. In the Thermopylae pass, few stood against many for freedom and made their last stand.

Xerxes led the largest fighting force ever assembled, some of the historians still believe that their number was over 3 million. The Persian Empire was very big its border extends from the Indus River in India to Nile River in the Egypt. Xerxes invested lot of money and 5 years to assemble that army, built ships and buy food for invading Greece, his intention was to burn the Greek city Athens to punish them for supporting a rebellion against Persia 25 years ago. Xerxes sends a man to find out what lies in the way. The man discovers 7000 Greek soldiers blocking the east of the pass. The Persians out numbred the Greeks nearly 50 to one. In a strategic move the Greeks have chosen the Thermopylae pass as the battle place which is a narrow pass of around 200 yards in width. Leading the Greek army is the great Spartan king Leonidas one of the 2 kings of Sparta who was chosen to lead the army by all the Greek city states to go and hold the Thermopylae pass.

Xerxes waited for around 4 days to attacks and finally attacks on fifth day. About 150 yards away from the Greek army, thousands of Persian archers launch a barrage of arrows. Leonidas and Spartans waited all their life for this moment as they were born for battle.

Around 530BC 50 years before the battle of Thermopylae Spartan king Leonidas was born and inspected by a Spartan elder. Sparta at that time was a hard core warrior society. After birth every child was examined and was decided if he is fit to live in the society, if the baby has any imperfection, they didnt allow him to live. At the age of 7 every male child including leonidas is sent to the army camps for training. Leonidas was a strong baby and was spared by the Elders to live and was sent for the army training where young Leonidas will live, train and learn to kill or be killed, for the next 12 years. At the age of 18 his education completed and he enters the Spartan army.

This is the time for every Spartan mother to feel proud of, while handling his son the shield she would tell them in Greek Come with the shield or on it.

581BC one year before the battle of Thermopylae a Greek spy discovers that the Persian king Xerxes has assembled his army to invade Greece. The Xerxes plan was to burn the Greek city state Athens to the ground. When the Athenians discovered the intention of the Xerxes they quickly realized that they are going to need help. Despite their poor relations the Athenians reach their one of the major regional rival Spartans for help. Before deciding whether to help the Athenians the Spartans consult the Oracle (one of the most sacred Greek shrines). According to them the death & sacrifice of Leonidas will save the Sparta and Leonidas agreed to help the Athenians to battle the Persians as he believed that he is the descendant of Heracles and Gods have chosen him to save Sparta. The counsel of Sparta isn’t convinced and allows Leonidas to take a minimal force of 300(all with father and son) chosen by him.

Before the battle of Thermopylae, Xerxes sent a messenger to negotiate with the king Leonidas.
Messenger:
Don’t be stupid Spartans, lay down your weapons or prepare to die, you are facing the largest and the strongest army ever assembled, our arrows will blot out the sun.
One of the Spartan: Then we shall have our battle in the shade.

The Spartans used their shields to avoid the barrage of Persian arrows.

Stuck in the narrow pass the Persians could not break the human walls(phalanx) of the Spartans and were slaughtered.

Sooner the Persians began to realize that it was not the best of the idea to launch themselves on the Spartans waves after waves.

End of the day the Spartans killed many and lost few which gave them a hope of Victory, on the other side Persians were trying to find a way to surround the Greeks land force from behind.
Next morning Spartans and the Athenians took their respective positions prepared for the second Persian attack. In the noon Xerxes decided to march 10,000 of his best fighters (also known as the immortals) to the front.

Xerxes believed that the immortals will end the action, but the Spartan phalanx were so rock steady that even the immortals were not able to break it and were killed. One of the main reasons of failure of the immortals was that they had never faced such a highly skilled, trained and tactically flexible fighters like Spartans.

After 2 days the Persian body count was enormous.

After the second day of battle a Greek traitor named Ephialtis revealed the goat path to Xerxes in order to get rich quickly. Seeing that he can’t penetrate the Greek defense, he decided to use the path and ordered 10,000 of his soldiers to march and climb up the hill in the dark to surround the Greeks from behind. But this path was not unknown to Leonidas. Before the first day of the attack Leonidas had stationed 1000 people(Phoceans) in the pass. But when the Persian approached the Phocean land, the defending force was missing. Now the Persians have a unhindered path. By this time the Leonidas was doomed from above and behind. In the mid of the night Leonidas knew that the Phoceans have deserted the path.

Knowing that he has been out flanked, he decided to order his army to retreat, leaving only around 300 Spartans.

By the dawn all of the Greek troop retreated except Spartans and around 700 soldiers from Greek city state of Thespia as they decided to fight with the Spartans to the death(very few know about this). Now Leonidas and his 1000 men were surrounded by the 10s of thousands of Persians. Cleaned and prepared for the battle the Spartan took the field for the one last time. Third day fight began and the Spartans & Thespians fought like mad, they had nothing to lose as they were destined to death. After some time all the Spears & Swords of the Greeks were broken and they were fighting with whatever they could.

Somewhere in between the fight Leonidas was struck with the Persian arrow fire and fell on the third day.

There was a great battle over the body of the Leonidas, finally the Greeks recovered the body. At last the Persians called their archers for the one last time.

The last stand of the few hundred men will always be remembered.

Ē tan ē epi tas

Tuesday, February 03rd, 2009 | Author:

Director Rosshan Andrrews represents Kerala’s new generation of film directors who have vision, passion and commitment but not necessarily a good understanding for story or screenplay excellence.

Four decades ago, the Malayalam film industry had been the envy of nearly every Indian film maker. It boasted of veteran directors who ruled cinema because of their excellent screenplay techniques and the ability to tell stories that were different yet rooted to reality. Those who believe that directors such as Priyadarshan represent Malayalam cinema on a broader platform in Bollywood are ignorant because his movies are not a patch on the superlative quality of films that veteran film makers of Malayalam are truly famed for.

Today’s Malayali directors are young and aspire for quick fame. Their techniques are more focused on infusing their movie with young dialogues, peppy music and great cinematography. The technique of story telling has been affected badly in the process.

Even then, the screenplay rights of most Malayalam movies are bought at staggering sky-high prices by the Tamil industry and now, Bollywood. Some of Bollywood’s poor adaptations of Malayalam movies include Gardish, Baghban, Hera Pheri, Hungama, Hulchal, Garam Masala, Bhool Bhulaiya, Dhamaal, Chandni Chowk to China, and Billu Barber. I use the term ‘poor’ because the movies had senseless screenplays when translated to Hindi while in Malayalam the context, the dialogues and even the themes were justifiable and justly portrayed by veteran film makers.

A Malayalam movie that I recently watched is “Notebook” which was directed by Rosshan Andrrews. Thankfully, the rights of this movie haven’t been grabbed up. With excellent music, cinematography, editing and fine camera techniques, this movie is interesting though it doesn’t do much on an emotional scale due to its excessive modernity.

The movie depicts a beautiful journey into the intimate friendship between three high school girls who stay in hostel and become as closer than siblings. One of the girls ends up pregnant and the two girls cover up for her to the extent that they force her to abort and finally, the girl dies.

When she dies, the two friends hide her death till the police grill them and one of the girls (played by actress Roma) breaks and conveys the truth.

The second friend denies having any involvement in the abortion. The boy who was involved with the deceased girl doesn’t even hear about her death till much later. When he does, he is filled with pangs of guilt and longs to do something to make amends though he knows it is too late.

The betrayal of friendship and the subsequent estrangement between the girls throws them into separate lives and separate ways of dealing with the loss of their friend. Everything is questioned in the screenplay and tosses out some truly important questions for parents, teachers and all of us to ponder about:

  • What is friendship really? Is it a whim, commitment or responsibility?
  • What forces young girls into making choices like abortion? Is it broken homes, wealthy lifestyle, lack of morals or a desperate choice fearing the hypocrisy of Indian society?
  • Who has a right to pass judgment over choices that young people make – those who give birth to them yet have no time or inclination to be with them, those who call themselves ‘teachers’ and can’t see beyond the syllabus or curriculum or those who are their best friends?
  • What role do parents or teachers really exercise when it comes to the ‘morality’ of their children/wards? Can they make a positive difference?

Ultimately, it is broken homes, rich families and lots of money which bring these children together to live in a top residential Convent school, where money power, management power and vested interests are more important than a student’s talents or aspirations.

Category: Reviews, Story  | Tags: , , ,  | 2 Comments
Monday, January 12th, 2009 | Author:

There is more than one reason perhaps, why we should feel proud about Danny Boyle’s gritty and on-your-face portrayal of Bombay through his recently released film called ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. It has won four awards at the ‘Golden Globe’ ceremony held at LA. The film got recognized in all the four nominated divisions. Screenplay, original music score, direction and the best motion feature- Drama. Such is a hype that many believe that this film is going to give a tough competition at the Oscars.

The film is tribute to Mumbai, as the director says. It is a story of an Indian city which recently came under attack by gunmen last year. Location and setting, performers, the music composer, the story (based on Vikas Swarup’s Q & A) all have a common thread –India. Mumbai being home to the production of hindi films, it has always attracted attention by western filmmakers.

The film also perhaps has taken a clue of rise of the entertainment industry and the number of reality shows that is increasing by the day in India. Loosely based on dramatic events or non events for that matter in the main protagonist’s life post KBC is what it is. Kaun Banega Crorepati which is an original replica of popular British TV show Who wants to be a Millionaire?  The film also touches real estate mongers, red light business, gangster rivalry, songs and dance (archetype bollywood), action a masala film to cut it short. “Hard to believe an outsider can create such a clean film on us (Indians)” a colleague says.  The pirated versions of the film is out in the market and some of us have caught hold of it for sure, but I wish to watch it out in the big screen and enjoy desi Rahman. Keep up the good work and I would also like to give credits to Sukhwinder Singh and Irfan.