Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Its not about the bike - Lance Armstrong

Good read overall.

He talks of growing up hard, the early wins, the cancer. And then the hard fight back from cancer, and back to the gruelling bike racing. And the historic wins at the Tour.

Inspiring. ( and no, I still haven't learnt how to ride the cycle!)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Dirty Picture - Milan Luthria

Begins promisingly, ends disappointingly, watchable overall tho.

The movie chronicles the rise and fall of a siren in the south indian movie industry. Loosely based on Silk Smitha's life.

Has a pretty good pace in the ranchy first half. Pretty good acting by Vidya Balan. Naseer is priceless as usual. Liked the fact that the so called 'compulsions' angle was underplayed, although I expected it to be even more underplayed.

But the warning sign, comes on right before intermission, as a laboured speech is delivered, the typical dumbing down of a movie - the clear sign that the director realises that his art can't get the message across, either since he's too dumb, or the audience is too dumb, and so the 'message' will have to be spelled out, slowly, in small words and in capital letters.  At any rate, once you have to make her state the obvious, you know things aren't going well with the movie.

Post intermission, it slides down the usual path of cliches, too many to count. Emraan's part was badly scripted and badly cast.

Still doesn't scratch beneath the surface, and I totally hated the end. Its the anti-thesis of everything that Silk has to symbolise for me. For a woman who's protrayed as unapologetically as she is, to conclude with her in a fully covered saree, bindi, pining for that kiss on the forehead, sounds like a complete cop out. Fitting her right back into the stereotyped tack of womanhood.

Ok for a few laughs though.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The adventures of tintin - Steven Spielberg

Was thoroughly enjoyed, even though the story left much to be desired.

However i've always loved the cartoons, and was willing to forgive much, specially for snowy, Haddock, and the Thomsons, not to mention the nightengale.

Although, when compared with some of the other animation movies, this one really struggled with the story, and tended to be a bit of a drag initially, and even the ending was too much of a 'sequel, here i come'.  But there were some hilarious moments to compensate, and overall I had a good time.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I was perhaps 6 or 7 years old. Not more than 8 certainly. We lived on the ground floor, and a bunch of us usually played on the street and pavement right across the house.

Oonch neech ka papada used to be one favourite, with the oonch being the pavement of course. Vish amrit was another, which usually covered more ground. Chupan chupayi used to be good fun too, and I remember hiding behind the cows who were usually parked around randomly, ruminating away.

I remember looking at the pavement one day, and thinking that it really could do with a good sweep. But even back then, I was old enough to know, that what I was contemplating, was probably in the same league, as sneaking off a chavanni to buy an orange candy. Something to be actively discouraged.

I sneaked out the broom surreptitiously, nevertheless, and made a few ineffectual sweeps at the pavement. My mom found me within a minute however, ah the sixth sense they are endowed with. Specially when the kids are upto-something.

She explained pretty patiently to me, how this was not my work. Not my problem. How the best thing to do , was leave well alone.

I was reminded of that day today..

Yes, the attitudes run very deep. But if we don't try , we'll never know how deep right?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rockstar -


ps, 2 days later:- Now that my intense frustration has cooled off somewhat, and I've realised that I'm in a bit of a minority here ( almost everyone I've spoken to has like it) , thought I'd update this post and flesh it out a bit.

To start with, I do stand by my original statement, I for one could not stand the movie at all. When the intermission sign came on, I remember thinking - oh no, I feel like I've already lived through a whole, slightly boring movie, surely there can't be more. And after the intermission, there were just too many cringe inducing moments, where I would have walked out of the theatre had I been watching the movie alone.

So, the customary summary , a young aspiring singer/guitarist does the rounds of colleges, but doesn't quite seem to be making the cut. He's adviced that true poetry can only come through pain. He then tries experiance the pain, by choosing to fall in love with a girl. Of course, the choosing goes nowhere, and of course these two end up really falling in love. However they spend many years, and her wasted marriage, to realise that they lauuuu each other. Meanwhile, our budding rockstar, gets even more pain his way, by being thrown out of his house, and but of course with all this pain, his music shines through, and he does get to be a Rockstar.

One of the biggest drawbacks is the completely stilted and unconvincing female lead. Plus I think the whole romantic angle, was badly scripted and filmed. Not as an idea, which was fine, but in how its actually come out. I found most of the sentimental scenes between the two, quite cringe inducing to say the least. Post intermission, they become unbearable. Ranbir, to his credit, does a half decent job, even in those god - awful romantic scenes. But overall, it just seemed a stumbling, bumbling silliness of a movie, with big pretensions.

The music, probably has a niche audience, in people who really appreciate rock , I don't , so it wasn't much of a turn on. Plus I found just wayy too many songs in the movie, the usual complaint with hindi movies. Inserting songs, whether they make sense or not. And I didn't really find the song lyrics blending into the movie. Maybe the songs as an album would have made more sense. Sadda haq - whats he angry about again, within the confines of the movie? katayan karun - you couldn't find appropriate dialect lyrics for a Jat and a Kashimiri? kun fayakun - was there a more forced plot turn to get him to nizamuddin to sing this? 

Anyway, I think in summary, this is just the usual 'romantic comedies' or 'musical love stories' that bollywood churns out, just with better finishing, but the same sad hackneyed plot and direction. I haven't seen any of them on the hall, only on tv, where i could channel surf, when I wanted, hence my  intense hatred for the movie.

If you like the bollywood love stories, you should ignore my AVOID advice, and make your own judgements.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


ah the two faced duplicity with which we treat people from whom we need to get work done. The completely fake smile plastered on, with which we make small talk, how are the kids, how are things, invite them home. All the while thinking, - I need this from him/her.

Just finished one such call, and I'm amazed at how good I've become at this. I guess its called maturity. The process whereby you give up your child like honesty, and learn the ways of the world.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Revolution 2020 - Chetan Bhagat

Rather forgettable. Didn't have the low brow humour of 2 states, which was the main thing I was hoping to find. This one is just another story, nothing that stays with you, and something that reads just like a bollywood script.

Spoilers ahead - no thats not a warning, its an invitation to read this, and save some hours of your life from being wasted.

A kid tries hard to clear the engineering entrance exams, but fails the first time. The girl he loves, also ends up with his best friend aka the revolutionary. Under pressure from dad, he gives a second attempt, fails again. His heavily in debt father dies. But our kid gets unexpected help from a local poltu types, and manages to extricate some age old family property from the clutches of stay orders and lawyers. He then build a college on it. With help from the poltu types ill gotten gains. Meanwhile true loves boy friend has chucked the cushy engineering dream, and gone revolutionary, and is now publishing a paper, full of scam exposes. Boy and true love are meeting secretly, since revolutionary is no longer giving time to his girl friend. Revolutionary does a piece on the college too. But wait, there's an ultimate sacrifice our boy makes, as he realises the error of his ways. He needs to bring the true love and revolutionary together again. But how to make true love hate him? In a truely inspired moment of bollywood, he hires two call girls, and sets things up, to be in bed with them, when true love arrives. Exit - true love, who will now live happily ever after with the revolutionary.

There, now I've summarised it for you, leaving nothing out. So don't bother with the book! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Real Inspector Hound @ Rangashankara

Decent watch, although it could have been much better I think.

A couple of theatre critics are reviewing a play. The play with the play, is a classic Agatha Christie style whodunit, complete with body, and a closed manor house. Whose is the body, and who killed the fellow? Much laughs are had as we see the histrionics of the 4-5 people in the manor. Even more laughs are had, as we see the critics preoccupation of their own lives, and the rather ludicrous way they describe the play. The whole setup is actualy a spoof on whodunits and theatre critics as well.

We quite enjoyed the comedy. And some of us, it seems, are still caught up in the vision of eternal grace, a poem.. with her mouth open!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Surely You're joking Mr. Feynman - Feynman & Ralph Leighton

Delightful little book! I'd heard of it since school days, but somehow assumed it to be a little physics heavy and so kept putting off reading it. Mr Feynman is after all a Nobel winning physicist. So there must be the absent minded professor in him somewhere.

But he's anything but that. His huge curiosity about life in general, makes this collection of his reminiscence very interesting. The tales includes things as varied as his college antics, his attempts at learning to play instruments, learning to paint - including nudes(!), picking locks, hypnotism, ant trails, the nuclear bomb, getting girls to sleep with him, dream interpretation, course books for basic science and maths education and what not. The tales always seem to have a funny twist, and I found myself giggling on many a volvo ride, and chuckling out aloud on a few as well.

The curious character, and the funny manner of narration, makes this one a must read.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Diwali everyone!

The even earth
beginning to crack
a seedling breaks through..

Friday, October 21, 2011


Was reminded of it today, after we got the raw end of one of the 'normal' practices.

What makes a lot of these 'normal' practices, normal? When you try to analyse them logically, there's nothing normal about them.

Registering flats at circle rates. Overreporting your HRA and medical bills. Charging 10 months advance deposit for houses, giving no interest, and then cutting it for frivolous things at the end. Demanding your gratuity, but cribbing if your maid asks for it. Wondering why your plumber is so shameless as to charge you for 3 taps while fixing only 2, but being perfectly ok with sneaking off property from the company you work for. Buying pirated DVDs of your favourite director from the street for 30 bucks, and ( hold your breath) , trying to return even that to a different street vendor so that you can save those 30 bucks.

Yes each and every one of these instances is 'us'. We the people. People I know personally. Friends and family. No, not even acquaintences, each one of these instances were from my friends.

So, why the double standards? Every person tries to maximise his or her greed. There is nothing that gives us a higher moral ground than the other guy, not unless you at least acknowledge that what you're doing is wrong. Ethically wrong, if not legally wrong. Why am I shouted down, and viewed as some kind of freak, every time I've asked these questions? I don't claim to be blameless, but I acknowledge that if I've ever done something of this kind, it has been driven by greed, the chalta hai attitude of the system, NOT due to any entitlement complex, which automatically sets a different set of ethics for my HRA, but not for the politician who's getting the metro to go through the land he owns, and not from the other side of the city, which needs it more.

Simply quoting scale, does not make it right. There are people further down the ladder, who can also quote scale, and in those scales, we, the middle class, would come off looking pretty horrid.

Take off that I am anna t shirt and start some introspection now.  You have to be the change you want, and stop looking for a god, ( or god like systems) to fix your problems in one fell swoop.  

Friday, October 07, 2011

Arth - Mahesh Bhatt

Decent watch, beautifuuul music.

A woman worries about a house to live in, with an evictment notice in hand, while her artistic husband doesn't seem to be bothered. But, it turns out soon, she does get her house, however its a heavy price to pay, the husband seems taken with 'another woman'. What will she do now?

The theme is interesting, and I was rather pleasantly surprised by the ending. However it does tend to get a bit melodramatic, and uses some predictable stereotypes. But just the music is beautiful enough to make you forget all the shortcomings of the movie.

Worth a watch.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Sometimes they say - if at first you don't succeed, try , try and try again..

But how do you know what are the parts to change between the multiple attempts? What if while you're trying again and again, you're essentially just doing the same thing over..

And you know what they say about that - Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. I believe its called insanity.

Hindsight, of course is always perfect, but while you're living through a thing, its just so damn hard to know.

Saturday, October 01, 2011


When I'd joined yoga classes as a beginner, I had assumed that the beginners would naturally be unable to do any of the postures, and the experianced people, would ace all the asanas.

But I discovered almost right away, how naive that view was. We're all built differently, and everyone begins at a different level for different areas. There were many beginners, who started out with an amazing flexibility in some area or the other.

Over the months, with practice and hard work, most people improved their flexibility. But even with all that, there are still asans, which I can't do, and which some people just do flawlessly, effortlessly, naturally.

In the end, that all that we can really do. Try our best to improve from where we started. But if we view everything like a race, at some stage, all we get is frustration. Someone else will always be ahead, because they would have started ahead, even if you do your very best, and beat everyone who started with you.

It can be a sobering thought, if you've been fighting hard to stay ahead in the race, achieve things through sheer smart and hard work. But it can also be a liberating thought. Because it isn't really a race, and the fun is only in the journey.

Stop to smell the roses. And remember, life doesn't give you any handicanps. Because its isn't a race, and so you can't really win.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Dance of Intimacy - Harriet Goldhor Lerner

It was picked on m's reco. Interesting read, like a lot of other such psychology/self -help books.

It starts off by describing intimacy for the purposes of the book, which basically boils down to being oneself and letting the other be themselves. No, it doesn't sound like any relationship I know either, we usually seem pretty focussed on changing ourselves to please the other, or trying to change the other to please us.

The book then goes over some typical patterns in relationships like overfocusing vs distancing, Change vs change back, overfunctioning vs underfuncting, triangles etc. There's also a lot of emphasis paid to family, probably due to the Bowens family system adherence.

Its useful to get an awareness and perhaps some measure of understanding of these patterns and theories. However breaking the patterns is another thing altogether. I guess its an ongoing , life time process!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hereafter - Clint Eastwood

Really forgettable. I guess all brilliant directors have to make a few mistakes.

A journalist has a near death experiance, complete with the bright light et al, and tries to make sense of it. Meanwhile a psychic tries to lead a 'normal' life, and works to avoid using his unusual abilities. A third parallel story track, has a little kid trying to understand and come to terms, with his loss. At the end the three stories come together briefly.

Overall, it just seemed like a mish mash, and didn't come together well. The pace was uneven, and the story was rather incoherent.

I find it a fascinating topic, and was really expecting at least a more nuanced handling from someone like Clint Eastwood. But sadly disappointing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Speedy Singhs - Robert Lieberman

Completely avoid. It has no saving grace AT ALL - bad story, bad direction, bad acting, bad idea to go watch this movie.

A bunch of sardars, facing discrimination, decide to form an ice hockey team of their own, and ( surprise surprise ) , win some tournament in the end. And yes the father opposes his sons time wasting in the beginning, and comes around in the end. And yes, the indian boy, gets the firang girl as well. ah , I just gave away the end, didn't I ?

Considering the slew of good movies with similar sports themes ( bend it like beckham, iqbal, chak de, league of their own, the list goes on and on ) , there's really no excuse for this sad movie.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thunder Demons - Dipika Mukherjee

okish read.

The story is set in malaysia, against all the 'multi-cultural' and religious tensions. There is a fanatic colonel s, who starts of with a murder, and continues plotting more meyhem. Then there is the young Agni, whose mothers death, and fathers absense is a bit of a mystery. Then there's Jay, who knows about Agni's mother and father, and who has been away from Malaysia, but is back on the Colonel's request.

It can be read as a thriller, but it doesn't make a very good one, since both the plots are rather predictable. The prose tends to get a bit over bearing at places as well. Plus there are just way too many characters, some of them adding nothing to the story really.
Worth a read, mostly just as a refresher, on the state of Malaysia, and perhaps our world.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mandi - Shyam Benegal

I'd been a bit apprehensive about watching this one, assuming it would be another arty sob story about prostitution etc etc

But it turned out to be way better than I'd expected.

Not a lot to the story, a lady runs a brothel, with uncommon spunk. Development demands that she vacate the land to make way for a big building. High morality is invoked as convinient. The conflicting pressures are shown beautifully, nari niketan can work for big business, but then the big business also needs the brothel, and the stand offs can be interesting and satirical. The movie is, after all, made in a vein of black humour.

Amazingly actors, amazing direction and a very good movie overall.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Ageless Body Timeless Mind - Deepak Chopra

Was an okish read, tad better than I expected.

I used to have a pre-conceived low opinion of most of these new age guru/healer kind of guys, and Deepak Chopra pretty much fitted the bill. However a chance interview on tv, got me to revise the low opinion to a sea- level opinion, some of the stuff he spoke of was rather reasonable, even if it wasn't sensational.

This book is perhaps cannily pitched for the seekers of long life. It re-emphasis some of the obvious things - good food, exercise.

Some things it reaffirms are known but perhaps not universally acknowledged yet - eg meditation, mental well being, ability to handle stress, awareness. These go a long way in our response to aging, although we tend to forget them.

Lastly it talks of some stuff which is completely in the domain of pseudopsychology so far. Eg the part about the universe fulfilling your desires if your awareness is open and clear etc etc. Plus it yaps a whole lot about entropy, quantum mechanics, dna , hayfleck limit etc, aging gene etc etc, without really making much sense of all these.

The parts I liked were the ones which remephasised the deep connection between body and mind, much larger than modern allopathy, or even modern living concedes. A lot of experiments to bolster that, and the book sprinkles a good few interesting ones. Eg well documented cases of some people like monks and yogis controlling the body in ways which are traditionally thought to be uncontrollable. Or the experiment with playacting life as it was 20 years ago. For that matter the universally acknowledged, and easily dismissed placebo affect, is itself a bit of a mystery.

Overall it was an okish read, although I don't think I'll be picking another of his books any time soon!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

the 3g smartphone
254 friends
the unconnected life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The norm.

Our papers were in order. We were registering at the full amount, and not using the 'usual' practice of registering at guidance value. We were at the registration office in time. There was a buzz that due to some vigilance inspection, there would be no bribes this monday.

It was a rumour. The 'normal' bribe amount, which our lawyer had warned us about much in advance, was duly collected.

I am also ashamed, that I did not even speak up, which I usually do, since I didn't have the guts to shake the whole system, and take on so many people together, the registration officers, the lawyer, the broker, the seller, the bank. I knew the price of speaking up, is delay. When I refused to pay up for the passport, it took 6 months to come. However, in this case, delay meant essentially losing out on the house. So between uprightness and the house, the house won.

Such as it goes. Another routine day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara - Zoya Akhtar

Decent fun movie. What you'd call paisa vasool. Perhaps the men would enjoy it more than the women.

However it doesn't stay with me, the way luck by chance did. That one was a brilliantly made movie, and I completely loved it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


There was a movie called rang de basanti, which had left me rather under whelmed, while it was creating a mass hysteria. Not in terms of movie making itself, I thought it was rather well made, but in terms of the underlying message.

The conversion from political apathy, to active political activism, is a journey. The conclusions you reach are less important than the journey. ( whether extreme left wing naxalism, or extreme right wing conservatism). At some stage all isms work, at another they can all fail. Heck, with a good guy at the top, you could even make dictatorship work. What you end up believing in, could depend on the influences, the processing you do, and ( if some neurologists are to be belived), even the way your brain is wired. However, irrespective of what affiliation you make in the end, either the leftist of hazar chaurasi ki maan, or the right wing Salim of Khamost Pani, you process certain inputs, think, draw conclusions, take stands. That is your journey.

What didn't sit well in RDB for me, was the complete lack of that journey. Misdirected rage, does not a political movement make. Each candlelight procession of public anger does not a freedom movement make. Why am I reminded of this today? Because the parallels between RDB and whats happening on the roads today seems uncanny. Yes I'm sure there are many who've taken that journey, and made an informed choice. More power to them. But I seem to meet a lot more people, who are determined to let Anna do all the thinking for them, and are willing to believe every absurd type of propaganda floating around. Yes we're all frustrated with the corruption, but don't we all have to do some hard work to think for ourselves?

I've always been rather apolitical, never having made those journeys, never having much political awareness. My stands were usually taken on limited areas like individual freedoms and equality. I gave a wide berth to civic functioning and economic policy, having litte understanding of both. However this is one time, it just seems impossible to not take a stand, on an issue which most of us have a really limited understanding of. So where does one begin? Well for one, you try and understand what is being proposed, what are the issues, what are we rallying for? 

I'm growing increasingly tired of the simplistic jingoism, and the hero worship of individuals, as a substitute to doing some hard thinking on your own. I'm also tired of the simplified battle lines that seem to have been drawn, as if every person agreeing with the bill, should also agree with the methods adopted by Anna to pressurise the govt. As if every person disagreeing with the bill has to necessarily villify the proponents, laud the governments stupid 'preemptive' moves, and denounce the so called 'blackmail' methods.
As of now, I'm quite unconvinced by the bill, specially the way the campaign promotes it as 'being a solution to all varieties of corrupt practices in our lives' which I think was a massive understatemet. ( by none other than  Aruna Roy herself). I'm open to discussion, and willing to be convinced about its effectiveness. I'm reading everything I can on it. But please, give me a major break from these human chains, I am Anna, and the 'social' movement against corruption. Lets be clear about what we're trying to achieve here, and understand that once we've got it, and the initial euphoric years have passed, it will be mighty hard to change it again.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What on earth????

Am I the only one finding this whole line of thinking strange?? Do we know what our budget, and spend is ? Do we know how money moves ? Do we not know anything at all barring addition, subtraction and division?

Do u know what will happen if 1,456 Lac Crores comes back.

1. India Financially No.1

2. Each district will get 60000 crores & each village will get 100 Crores

3. No need to pay taxes for next 20 yrs.

4. Petrol 25 Rs, Diesel 15 Rs, Milk 8 Rs.

5. No need to pay electricity bill.

6. Indian borders will become more stronger than the China Wall.

7. 1500 Oxford like Universities can be opened.

8. 28,000 kms Rubber road (like in Paris ) can be made.

9. 2,000 hospitals (with all facilities) all medicine Free.

10. 95 crore people will have their own house.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Zen, its history and teaching - Osho

Its a good introduction to Zen, something I didn't know anything about, before reading this.

To be sure, really understanding it is close to impossible, because its not really a religion, certainly not in the sense that the word religion is understood. Absolutely unlike say Islam or Christianity, and even far removed from the kind of uni - dimensional Hinduism or buddhism that is sought to be institutionalised these days.

The origin of the word is explained as a variation on 'Dhyan'.  The emphasis is on the meditative, innate self, the place of not a thinking mind, but rather an instinctive, unthinking mind. As such, the central theme that I could gather throughout the book, was one of doing away with scripture's teachers, logic, theory, of not choosing at all.

Good read overall.

Some excerpts:

If you meet a budhdha, cut him down; if you meet a patriarch, cut him down; if you meet an arhat, cut him down, if you meet your parents, cut them down, and if you meet your relatives, cut them down.
Only thus, will you be liberated, and ifyou are not held by externals, you will be disengaged and comfortably independent.

The great way, is not difficult for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaver and earth are set infintely apartt.
If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinion for or against.
The struggle of what one likes and what one dislikes is the disease of the mind.

And finally the lovely haiku..

The ancient pond
A frog jumps in

Sunday, August 14, 2011


There's an ad on tv, an old gentleman is bemoaning how decades ago, some guy called Kanti Lal, kissed his wife. The youngish fellow next to him, uses our maadern technology to located said Kanti lal. The last scene shows the old gentleman standing next to the tottering old kanti Lal, and Kanti Lal's wife. The gentleman says ' hisaab barabar' pecks Kanti Lal's wife on the cheek, and runs off as the wife is looking up rather shocked and horrified. 

I was wondering, what if we make a contrarian scenario. An old woman bemoaning how some dame called Kanti Bai kissed her husband. What if she finds the said Kanti Bai, and pecks Kanti Bai's husband to do the hisaab barabar.

Doesn't quite ring true.. does it? So much for equality. And so many questions to ponder over. Questions over mindsets about protection, sexuality, power, self image, justice..

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Home Decor - Plug for friends!

For those of you in Delhi, here's the chance to do some home decor shopping, and add the four moons to the your home! Two of my friends have are having separate exhibitions of their lovely stuff, do check out over this weekend:

Place & Time : Ambience Mall, 7th floor above reliance, Gurgaon, 12th Aug to 15th Aug
Type of stuff - Home decor, gift collections
Wall hangings, mirrors, vases, pen stands - all designed and hand crafted lovingly by Nidhi herself!
Name: Treasured Crafts - http://nidhimanchanda.com/treasured-crafts/

Place and Time: Splendor at Ashoka Hotel, from 13th to 15th
Type of Stuff: Home decor, furnishings and gift collections
Amazing cushion covers, and a host of pretty things for the house, with Rhea being the designer and prime mover!

Stanley ka dabba - Amol Gupte

A sweet little film, well crafted and well acted.

A little kid at school doesn't get a lunch-box like his other friends. His friends don't mind sharing their dabba, but there's also a teacher, who's determined to grab the lunch boxes.

There's not much to the story really. You follow the tale of the lunch boxes, and although, the reason for Stanley's lack of dabba is exposed in the end ( a bit contrivedly to be sure), you never really learn the story of the teacher. Was reminded of the blue umbrella in some ways, but somehow preferred this one, even though that one had a neater story. This short movie draws its life mainly from the superb direction, and good acting.

Must watch, just to see what the craft of movie making is all about !

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tears of the desert - Halima Bashir

Its a rather moving book, not exceptionally well written, but aimed to churn your guts with its description of the casualties of the war in darfur.

Halima describes her childhood in a village in Sudan, her schooling and the brewing trouble, and the subsequent almost complete breakdown of 'normal life' as it were. There's a constant backdrop of rape being used as a weapon, and the usual response thats supposed to draw. Part of the reason that bit pisses me off, is because I see your own conditioning as part of the problem. Like rape is the worst ever thing that could happen to you. I don't think so. It all goes back to the need for society to control a woman's sexuality. As an aside, the FGM practiced by the african tribes seems as horrific if not more than the rapes. Although the author has described her own feeling of betrayal at it, I didn't find the detailed analysis I was expecting, why did it start, and why does it continue?

Decent read, but not exceptional.

Monday, August 01, 2011

keep off the grass - karan bajaj

time pass, not really very good. Same league as chetan bhagat , sidin vadakut etc.

An american indian investment banker returns to india to do an mba from the IIMB, trying to find answers to life's deep questions, as to what's he doing, whats the point of it all etc etc.

Some lines are funny, but overall as book, there's not much really holding the plot or narrative together.  

Unless you're into this kind of fiction, really avoid!

Friday, July 29, 2011


i feel like im transported back 6 years. Nothing changes, maybe a few additions to the bullshit bingo. ( nfc, cloud, mobility..) others remain the same.. Alignment, value proposition, bla bla bla.. There's a strange sense of deja vu, the same amusement, and wonder, at how money can motivate anyone to blabber so much, for so long , and with so little meaning.. Gah  i must be missing some essential corporate gene..

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows part 2 - David Yates

Okish watch, better than the last very very lame one, so thats not saying much. But overall, unless you're a fan of the whole saga ( and I know almost everyone is), these movies really can be avoided.

I haven't followed the story, haven't read the books, and seen few of the movies perhaps not even in the correct order. My feelings about the movies, are based strictly on how someone with a barely nodding acquintance with the whole setup, would see it. Comparisons with LOTR are perhaps inevitable, specially for someone like me who isn't following the story carefully.  A cursory glace at a scene can really make you which of the two you're watching. As far as I'm concerned, both the sets of sagas were pretty much useless, things you kept up with, just because everyone else did.

As I've said before, the fantasy genre isn't something I like much, so never got around to the books, which I've heard are much better. Lets see, maybe some day, i'll pick them up. I did plod through LOTR trilogyand was pretty much disappointed, so much detailing of an alternate reality, and for what?

My take - avoid. I know its wasted advice, but still..

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Best Years of our lives - William Wyler

Decent watch.

Its a very old 1946 movie, set in the US as 3 soldiers return home after the war, and the changes that have happened since. Its not easy to adjust back, after the best years of your life are gone, and you have a changed family and economy to come back to.

Its not easy to relate to the movie, the war being long gone. However as a movie goes, its decent, keeps the plot moving, doesn't get mawkish, and even all these years later, it keeps you engrossed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Theories and questions

Overheard a discussion among some 'grown ups', in which I happened to be a bystander.

Someone had been fighting cancer, and two of her friends, were telling her the theory of 'why i got cancer'. Its actually caused by all the resentments you carry around in life. And while one of the friends was relatively circumspect in advancing this theory too strongly, and acknowledged that it was, after all, just one possible theory, the other one was quite certain. Oh yes, its all the resentment, thats what gets converted to cancer. Full stop, end of discussion.

Considering how complex the human mind and human body is, even if there was a link between the resentment and cancer, surely one would be a bit more careful, before paraphrasing it like that? I mean there's the question of correlation and causality to ponder over. There's the butterfly effect to contend with. There are of course ( as the saner of the two ladies acknowledged) , the question of 3 month old babies. So many things to ponder, and yet the 60 plus lady was not only quite convinced, but determined to tell her cancer patient friend as well , how it was all the resentment.

I was bemused, and somewhat amused to say the least.

Couldn't help wondering, why do we get so stuck with our theories, views, opinions, etc etc? I've been trying over the past few years to loosen up myself, question more things, myself included. Its yielded interesting results at times. Its hard work of course, acknowledging that there can be many truths, and sometimes you have to make your own experiments with truth.

I wonder if the quite-convinced-on-cancer-cause lady will ever learn to doubt.. or perhaps she's privy to a source of truth that I'm not aware of .. who knows!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

..for the things they now knew

I'd read the interpreter of maladies a long time back, and it hadn't left much of an impact.

However there was one story in it, which didn't fade from memory like the others. One, whose last line remain etched, which wouldn't go away.

It was a story of a couple as they drift apart, following a loss. You can see the signs of the dying relationship as you flip the pages, and finally as a last nail in the coffin, the couple tell each other things, seemingly little things, which they'd withheld while they had still loved each other.

The last line of the story, which I was reminded of yesterday..

.. They wept together, for the things they now knew.

Knowledge is a funny thing, and so is memory. When you string together memory and knowledge, sometimes you're left rather surprised.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Fated to love - Qaisra Shahraz

Teeters close to being a pakistani Mills and boon. Minus all the hot bits we used to ear mark , back in school.

Can't say I really liked it, although I finished it off, even with a generous amount of fast forwarding of paragraphs.

There's a certain brand of novels, targetted at us women, with these mythical stories of 'love' and the kind of men who don't exist, and populated with the sort of conversations that don't happen in real life. Maybe its a sort of wish fulfillment, a part of you knows this isn't real life, and no matter how badly written the books are, you read them anyway, chasing rainbows.

At least thats the only explanation i can think of, for why these kind of books sell. I was never very good at chasing those rainbows, choosing instead to hold out reality like a shield, against any kind of dreaming. But its funny to read the novel even more, when you set it in rural pakistan, add the general patriarchy, and the outdated triple talaq nonsense, and a feminism struggling to make sense of it all.  ( was about to write outdated religion, but then perhaps its unfair to blame a religion that tried so hard to revolutionise its times, thats stuck with a bunch of morons promoting it, as if its written in stone)

Not much of a read overall unfortunately...

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Delhi Belly - Abhijay Deo

It was thoroughly enjoyed. Can't remember when I've laughed so much in a movie.

Three bachelors living together, get caught up in a bit of a mess. One of them has a fiancee, who's promised to deliver a package for someone, little knowing that it packs a punch. There's not a lot to the story. Just a host of black comedy characters, ranging from the landlord, the art directory bong boss, the gangster and his flunkies they run into, the madcap husband of another lady, and many many characters with a screen times of just a min or two, each one delivering precision and perfection in their comic timing.

The music matches the mood of the movie perfectly, and is quite apt with all its play on the cuss words. Its certainly a black comedy, as black as they come, with some pretty grossed out and gory scenes, but so well put together and directed, that you just can't stop laughing. All the more commendable, since the movie keeps that one single thread going for its entirety, there are no breaks for any tender moments, no relief at all from its pace, tone and tenor - which is fast, dark and slapstick. I guess it has plot, and script going for it, ( something say a Shaitan, was sorely lacking)

A final word of caution - I guess this genre will certainly not appeal to most aunty ji's and uncle ji's, not to mention its no movie for children. Ensure that you like the tarantinoesque genre before opting in! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

ok read. I'd liked the kite runner better.

This one reminds me too much of the dreary depressing tales of women from that god forsaken region. ( yes i do use the word advisedly - god forsaken, i don't think there's any kind of god looking out for people anywhere, but right there i think the devil rules. )

anyhow, although he writes well, the subject is too depressing, and the story too pat, to really like this book.

Eat pray love - Elizabeth Gilbert

Nice read overall.

Tended to get a little self-indulgent, but considering the sort of book it is, its a wonder that it doesn't get more self indulgent. It drags in places, but somehow bits of it pull through with its bits of humour and insight, and for me the overall affect was nice.

The author takes a timeout of an year travelling after her messy divorce, and this book is a recounting of her time off. Not a travelogue of the geographic places , but one of her mind, as she journeys thought Italy where she eats, India where she prays and Indonesia where she finds love.

I think its also about a mindset, if you've been depressed and lonely in your life, sometimes for no good reason, perhaps its easier to read this account. If you've sometimes wished you could just run away somewhere, and just eat, pray love, then perhaps its easier to read this book. On the other hand, there are many people who prefer a hands on problem solving approach, and dismiss off shadowy thoughts of unhappiness, they'd find this a drag. If you've never felt the urge to just take a time out from daily life, maybe this will seem strange.

But for me it was worth a read.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shaitan - Bejoy Nambiar

very very disappointing.

Lots of style, and brilliant scenes in isolation. Little to hold them together, as the movie drags, lurches and finally limps to the home run.

Five friends, high on drugs, adrenaline and speed, find themselves in a mess. As they plan to extricate themselves from the mess, of course the quagmire gets deeper and deeper, as the bodies pile up, and the net closes further.

There's the edgy , angsty feel of life being not quiet ok, of drugs and rage, and pounding energy. Those emotions are well captured in rarious scenes. But when it comes to putting together a movie with individual characters, and a plot, that too a thriller of sorts, the movie is a big let down.

I have to say I find myself in isolation here, since most reviews have given it a 'worth a watch' rating. I can't say I found it worth a watch. If its just the genre, there are plenty of good english movies of the genre to watch. And hindi movies have raised the bar pretty high in recent years for me to say ' watch it just since its genre never done before in hindi'.

Better watch individual scenes on you tube, you'll miss nothing.

Dork - Sidin Vadakut

Was funny to begin with, but a whole novel in that uni-dimensional tone got to be a bit too much. I mean I found myself fast forwarding portions, - considering this was a low brow fast read, thats a rather sad reflection.

Dork is an mba type, who's probably got a screw missing somewhere, but doesn't know it. He lands a consulting job at a company, and then proceeds to goof up in a rapid succession of megalomaniac acts at work and his love life ( or the lack thereof). The company itself offers many opportunities to laugh at it, but if you don't laugh, you'd probably cry, thats how real it seems sometimes - reminded me in bits of my own office ( gaah as always) and also various bits heard from nn, who's a consultant himself.

Overall ok, but could've been much better if there was some more variety rather than just the dork's unbelievable dorkiness. The diary format of writing makes it easier, but it still needs some way to break the monotony..

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

99 - Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K.

okish  watch, has its funny moments, although it tends to get a trifle dragged out .

2 small time cheats ( sim duplicators to be precise) get on the wrong side of gangster of sorts. He packs them off to recover money from an inveterate gambler. Many mixups and many laughs later, things sort themselves out.

Not as polished as 'shor in the city' , but still worth a watch.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom

Sometimes you find a book, just at the point in life that you need it. I think this was one of those. Picked it up yesterday, and polished off this slim volume in a few hours.

Its a simply and touchingly told tale, of a man who goes to visit his old teacher after many years, when he learns that the teacher is dying of a terminal illness. They meet on Tuesdays, and talk of many things on those Tuesdays. Things which perhaps you know somewhere deep down, but choose to ignore, discounting them as touchy-feely, and unworthy as compared to larger concerns of paying the house mortgage, office politics, and even the happenings on the sitcom. Things like emotions, death, love, family, aging, which aren't spoken of, when we make the customary 'hows it going'.

But one needs to be ready to read a book like this, if you're not, then it becomes just another of those preachy books. Worth a read if you're in a contemplative mood.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


You're searching
For things that don't exist, I mean beginnings.
Ends and beginnings - there are no such things.
There are only middles.


Monday, May 30, 2011

The man who mistook his wife for a hat - Oliver Sacks

Interesting read. For one thing, the area of neurology is something I find completely fascinating, and this book covers a lot of ground in terms of case studies covering various diseases/ syndromes which actually give a tantalising glimpse into what could be the miracle called the brain.

What gives us individuality? What makes me uniquely me ? How are my memories stored ? How do I process them? What gives me my 'perspective' ?

Some of these questions had come up in 'phantoms in the brain' which I'd read some time back.  In terms of writing, I found this one rather harder to read, what with its constant forays into religiousity and abstract humanity et al. However the way that he has captured the essense of each of the cases is just awe inspiring.

What if your body is functioning fine, but your brain little connector breaks off - what if you can't recognise your hand anymore? What if you can't form new memories any more ( yes rather better known thanks to 50 first dates, memento etc). What if you couldn't recognise tones / inflexions, if the words were all you recognised?

As the realisation of the possibility of these deficits builds up, the next section covers excesses. Rather than an ability being lost, what if you gained an excess of one? What if your sense of smell suddenly became as acute as a dogs?( an actual case) What if you could remember each day of your life, every moment, in complete clarity? ( another case).

Its the sort of thing, that leaves you pondering for quite a while. What exactly goes on in that little brain of ours??


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kung Fu Panda - 2

Cute, but I think I'm beginning to get out of the animation movies fan club.

Not that I didn't like the movie, yes its visuals are awesome, it has its funny moments, and the panda and party are cute(sy), but there was something missing.

anyway, maybe i'll watch a few more of them before i sign out of the animation movie fan club !

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thought for the day.

बेनाम सा यह दर्द ठहर क्यों नहीं जाता
जो बीत गया है वोह गुज़र क्यों नहीं जाता

- निदा फाजली

The newspaper today, unexpectedly with an article on poetry, gave pause to think. Loosely translated

This nameless pain, why doesn't it pause
that which is past, why doesn't it pass ..

Friday, May 27, 2011

Serious Men - Manu Joseph

Quite loved this one. 

Its a story of someone working in a science institute, set in Bombay. Only the person is not a scientist, but a pa. So what does an intelligent, lower caste, uneducated man living in Bombay do with his life? What does he do, as he sees, and thanks to his intelligence, understands, the circumstances of his life? Of the child and wife rusting away in one of the numerous nameless chawals? As he sees the meritocracy of the higher castes, in full bloom at the institute? What does he do indeed? Not many earth shattering things, but its the little things he does, which makes the tale unputdownable. 

Its a wittyly, thoughtfully written story, covering a broad canvas, and yet not biting away more than it can chew.

Must read.

Connect the dots - Rashmi Bansal

decent read.

Its a collection of interviews with young entrepreneurs in India, most of whom are people who started ventures they might not have even 'planned' for as such. At least not the sort of calculated sort of opening a company that some of us are more familiar with. All of these people are ones without an MBA degree, sometimes without any degree as such, but they've often chalked new unexpected and often inspiring courses.

In terms of writing, I'd say its average, no exceptional insights or turns of phrase. However just bringing together these stories, in the sort of easy to read , accessible format is pretty good. And needless to say - inspiring !

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thought for the day.

Its a day to ponder over the remains of the weekend. And of gone with the wind, which I read when I was in 8th , but some lines from Rhett still leap up clearly.

Death by a thousand blows

How much pressure can a person stand? Specially when you add a divine injunction to your pressure?

It was a sad morning today, when I realised that the opressive islamic right, had finally gotten through to someone. So another one bites the dust in the godforsaken burka debate. You keep hacking away, hacking away, and finally one day, bring out all the stops, until finally you win. And then you claim free will, and ( the final coup the grace), actually convince her that its free will as well.

There are few things as hateful as the idea of covering up a woman, to keep her 'safe'. And my flesh crawls at the thought, that we live in a world, where some of us, would actually be put into a mental state, where we'd wear a burka, and actually think that it makes us pious and safe.

Its a sad sad day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Discovery of india - Jawaharlal Nehru

Quite a fascinating and interesting read.

It covers the 'history' of india over the millenia, and the pages are effused with Nehru's own insight and a conversational style of writing. It covers a lot of ground, going over not just the political powers, but also over the nature of society, its various influences, religious, artistics, cultural.

Although the beginning tends to be a drag, it still a pretty rewarding book, if you stick with it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Kings speech

Good well crafted movie.

A prince has a stammer. What could be a minor irritant, for his position, becomes a major hurdle. And then, his public speaking becomes even more important, after he becomes king. But he also finds someone along the way who seems to be able to help.

Highly recommended, just as an example of what the art of movie making, can do for what seems essentially a straightforward piece.

Thought for the day

दिल की गिरह खोल दो चुप न बैठो कोई गीत गाओ
महफ़िल में अब कौन है अजनबी तुम मेरे पास आओ..

मिलने दो अब दिल से दिल को , मिटने दो मजबूरियों को
शीशे में अपने डुबो दो, सब फासलों दूरियों को
आँखों में मैं मुस्कुराओं तुम्हारी, जो तुम मुस्कुराओ..

महफ़िल में अब कौन है अजनबी..

हम तुम न हम तुम रहे अब, कुछ और ही हो गए अब
सपनों के झिलमिल नगर में, जाने कहाँ खो गए अब,
हमराह पूछे किसी से न तुम अपनी मंजिल बताओ..

महफ़िल में अब कौन है अजनबी..

कल हमसे पूछे न कोई, क्या हो गया था तुम्हे कल,
मुड़ कर नहीं देखते हम, दिल ने कहा है चला चल,
जो दूर पूछे कहीं रह गए अब उन्हें मत बुलाओ..

महफ़िल में अब कौन है अजनबी..

it just transports me right back to those days in school, those heartbreaks and make ups. Just seems like yesterday that we were dissecting the dynamics of possible relationships, over endless class breaks, between weekly tests, between moments sneaked from play rehearsals, in bunked classes hiding near the rooftop.

Seems just like yesterday, maybe it was. Because the more things change, the more they remain the same. And now, there are no more strangers, not in my mirror, not in hers.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Known Turf - Annie Zaidi

Mixed bag overall.

I've loved her style of writing ever since I stumbled on the blog many years ago, and that lyrical style is visible throughout.  but in this particular book, I'd say the content was a bit of a mish mash and disappointment. To some extent that happens when essays are woven together into a book, and even more so, when some of the
topics really seemed to drag.

Two pieces that I loved, were the ones on tea, and the one on women.

Can't say I recommend the book, somehow the blog seems better.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shor in the city - Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K.

Quite enjoyed this one.

Began on a slightly slowish note, but picked up and got quite engrossing.

It has a few parallel stories going on, a group of 3 friends, small time crooks. And there's the side angle - one of the crooks is newly married. An NRI who's returned to india, and is trying to start a business here, and what that can entail. (aside - Sendhil - drool drool. sigh. ). An aspiring cricketer, but he's also got a girlfriend. And thats another tale. With so many things going, the movie still manages to keep an even pace, and doesn't lose itself.

So why did I like the movie? The humour for one. And those subtle scenes, specially between the husband and wife. The pace and the story. And also the ending, as it teeters between the facile to the dramatic, but finally just ends, quite nicely.

Overall, rather rewarding.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Unbound : Indian Women @ Work - Gita Aravamudan

A rather disappointing read.

It goes over the stories and issues of the working women of india, but fails to present either the stories in an interesting light, or provide a thought provoking insight/analysis of the issues at hand.

If it wasn't for the fact that I see a little of myself in many of them, I'd never have been able to read it through to the end.

Plus perhaps I've grown rather despondent about the whole issue. Yes things have changed, many for the better, but still chance remarks by people, most of whom I consider close friends ( men and women), still make me cry hot tears of rage and disappointment when I realise that there's not going to be no equality. None at all. Forget in actions, not even in thoughts.

But then, this is the world we live in. And there's no god. Deal with it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rashomon - Akira Kurosawa

Good movie, as movies go, and a fascinating topic by itself. 

A passerby takes shelter at a ruin during a heavy thunderstorm, and there he finds a priest and a woodcutter discussing a very strange murder case at which they just gave testimony. A samurai has been murdered, a bandit caught for it. Apart from these two, the Samurai's wife and the woodcutter who found the body, form the set of four people whose widely varying accounts of the incident, make the case quite puzzling to say the least. 

Was there indeed a final truth ? In a way thats irrelevant. Whats far more interesting , are the interpretations that come up from the people. Sometimes people could be lying outright, for various motives, and there's plenty of that in the the movie. At other times, and this makes it even more fascinating, is the nature of memory itself. Its not a factual , set in stone thing, its colored , and hugely altered by so many things: perception, motivation, setting. And every time one accesses a memory, it doesn't necessarily remain the same. ( Classic example, the increasing confidence of the eye witnesses, as they are coached by police lawyers etc This is all scientifically proven stuff, not some wishy washy armchair theory)  Even more fascinating were the experiments about planting fake memories, nicely shown in Waltz with Bashir. The whole thing was brought even more starkly in perspective, as an incident at work, showed at least one classic case of 2 people giving widely varying accounts of an incident, with perhaps both of them convinced of the veracity of their version. 

Anyway, overall a good watch, even if parts of it are a bit slow, by modern fast and furious viewing standards.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Misery - Stephen King

Like the previous Stephen King, it was polished off rapidly ( in a day to be precise)

Decent read. Although the setting is rather gruesome to say the least, his command over story - telling is tremendous.

An author wakes up to find himself badly injured and being nursed by his 'number one fan'. But is she really nursing him? You realise pretty soon, that he's almost her prisoner, and she doesn't seem very well balanced. So how does one spin out the whole story out of just 2 characters, stuck in one house? Thats King for you.

Readable if you're not queasy.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Of this and that..

Been a while since I've posted, as books and movies have come and gone, and I've just been lazing around. Life's reached a sort of auto pilot mode, where hardly anything seems to really matter any more, the laughter seems the usual, and so do the tears, and both seem almost facile. Anyway, the blog being about second chances, I'll attempt to pick up the pieces again.

The question for today, that I'm pondering over - Does brilliance at your job excuse you from the norms of civil behaviour? How about legal behaviour? If you are a music maestro, is it ok spit paan in public? When an average person looks at the stain, do they look at them through rose tinted glasses - ah but what lovely music he plays, lets overlook this, lets not antagonise him. And what when its not a paan stain, but someone's emotional life you play with, do you still get a bigger leeway?

I remember those arguments in rape cases, which said it doesn't matter if the victim was promiscuous, and it doesn't matter if the perpetrator was a respectable member of society ( probably good at doing whatever he did and thus making money). Justice has to be blind. You look at the facts, and you decide.

Thats good for movies, and thats good for aspiration, but in real life, we don't work that way, do we? We make excuses, both ways - heavily. Even when we aren't really going to benefit, one way or the other, from the brilliant fellow, who's obviously doing something thats not on par. Still, there's that inherent fascination with brilliance, perhaps somewhere we fill, it'll do more good to society as a whole. The poor person at the receiving end, they don't really matter.

Yes, there's the ethical / philosophical debate, on how we still need to strive towards being impartial. But I realised today, what an uphill task it really is.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

No One Killed Jessica - Raj Kumar Gupta

Was an okish watch. Liked the music, which captures the feel of the city and the movie.

As for the movie itself, the story's pretty well known. The movie starts with the disclaimer about being part fact / part fiction, whatever that means. But the basic storyline is the same one that we've all heard. A rich brat ( minister ka beta types) shoots a girl who's bartending at a private party , since she couldn't serve him a drink. The case drags for years, witness are bought/frightened, stories change, bullets changes,  and eventually he's let off. Media picks up the case, its reopened in higher courts, and eventually justice ( or some such thing) prevails.

The movie isn't all that bad, but somehow doesn't have that zing - overall just an ok experiance.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The color of paradise - Majid Majidi

Another nice movie.

A blind child goes home to his village for the holidays. His father is ambivalent at best. How does their relationship go?

Again a story built around the simple things. A beautifully crafted movie.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Children of Heaven - Majid Majidi

Lovely heartwarming movie! I'd planned to watch it many years ago, but somehow didn't get around to it. Glad that y pushed me into watching it after all.

A little kid loses his little kid sisters shoes. They're poor, and those are her only pair of school shoes.. how are they going to manage?

Its a movie built around such seemingly little things. Great direction, great performances from the kids.

Must watch.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dhobi Ghat -

Good movie overall, it starts a bit slowly, and takes some getting used to, but by the end its a pretty rewarding experiance.

It follows the lives of different people in bombay, the spaces and relationships they negotiate, follow, learn.

People, all of whom have come from somewhere 'else'. The painter living alone, who's following the life of the previous tenant. Where did she go.. ? The banker type, who's just here on a sabbatical from abroad. She's following him, and the city, in search of love? The dhobi, who came there as a little kid, and is young enough to dream of making it big.. whose life intersects many people.

The movie is full of little nuances, and little observed facts which make a must watch.

The one rather jarring bit, is Amir Khan, in a surprisingly bad performance. Yes, its not a very well etched character, and yes perhaps this is not his forte, but still, there was something very very contrived and over the top about him. Otherwise the acting is decent overall. Prateik is very good, so there's something to look forward there. As an aside, I should eat my words about Amir always adding populism, in this one I guess he bowed to his wife!

Final warning - yes it is a very arty-slow movie, no pretensions of even trying to appeal to all. So yes, target audience is small, and a majority of people will not like it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yeh Saali Zindagi - Sudhir Mishra

Worth a watch. Can't say its very good or exceptional, but it keeps moving like a potboiler pageturner novel.

There's a smart guy, who's working with some shady big money ( think connection to gangsters, recovery men, land, hawala et al). Unfortunately for him, things start going wrong. His boss isn't being square with him. To top that, his love story doesn't quite seem to be going well. And while this is happening, there's another set of gangsters, who're sorting out their own internal quabbling. Somewhere the various plots meet, and then things keep happening at a frenetic pace.

Overall it has its fun moments, although it could've been better edited and made shorter and crisper.

However its not for a delicate audience - the language and some scenes ensure that. Additionally its not for a lazy audience - there's a lot happening, you need to pay attention.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Zorro - Isabel Allende

Read on dad's reco. Was a decent read.

The character of the fictional zorro was etched out in various tv series and movies. This book creates one possible childhood for him, his birth, his early years, his lineage and upbringing.

Set at the beginning of the 19th century, it traces the birth and childhood of a boy born in a world where the native americans and the spanish and other conquerers were jostling for power. The child is of mixed parentage, and sees the conflicting world views. The book traces through his childhood and pre-teens in europe, in the backdrop of the tumultous times. The invaders from europe push back the natives further and further on the fringes, brutally subduing them, bringing in their 'way of life' and changing the landscape forever. Meanwhile there's the background of the french revolution, bringing with it, its radical ideas, which challenged europe's traditional thinking, but which was also at complete logger heads with the expansion that all the powers in eupore were following.

Overall its a decent read, keeping the story moving, with lots of action as zorro indulges in various escapades. At the same time, there's the understated background of the times he lives in which shapes him.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Peepli Live - Anusha Rizvi

Was a decent watch. I think the decks were loaded against it because I'd heard and read so much about it, that I had too many preconceived notions .. At any rate, the first one third of the movie was spent getting rid of the preconceived notions, and then thinking afresh about what the movie is all about.

A farmer finds himself in the middle of a media circus, and an unwitting pawn in the political battle ongoing at various levels, after he blurts out his intention to 'commit suicide'. The blurting having been well mechanised by other factors. There's virtually no story as such, just a coverage of the circus.

Although the whole thing is ludicrous, but then I find all of prime time news ludicrous anyway. I've found it ludicrous ever since i saw all the channels milling around a village for ages, covering live the little boy who fell down a hole. That was pretty much the watershed moment for me, as I remember flipping 8 news channels in a row, and not a single one of them showing anything except a big crowd milling around nowhere, doing nothing.

Of course subsequent high - profile 'stories' made me think of all the things that peepli live takes pot -shots at. The stupid questions to tangential people, the opinion polls, the sensationalism, the extra-polation of every action,  And the movie makes you laugh at the circus. But beyond that there are no answers.. this is the world we live in. For those who say that the movie is a "satire", I'd say its not. Its actually a documenary. Show me one part of it which seems unrealistic, and I'll show you 10 new stories which have done just that and more.

As a movie, its good, but not brilliant. I'm just surprised that this was an Aamir Khan production, usually he's smart enough to add the populism that these things need ( think lagaan, mangal pandey, rdb etc) . This one doesn't actually prettify much. I guess that explains why Anusha and Aamir might not be working again together. I'm with Anusha on that one, my love affair with Aamir is long over.

Monday, January 10, 2011

thought for the day..

had planned to write something nice and cheerful, but came upon this.. and just felt that it echoed my own cynical attitude so perfectly.. its not about your job, or your boss, or about the saaptware industry, or the desi attitude. Its just the way it is.. everywhere.


That’s really the great mystery about bureaucracies. Why is it so often that the best people are stuck in the middle and the people who are running things—the leaders—are the mediocrities? Because excellence isn’t usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering. Kissing up to the people above you, kicking down to the people below you. Pleasing your teachers, pleasing your superiors, picking a powerful mentor and riding his coattails until it’s time to stab him in the back. Jumping through hoops. Getting along by going along. Being whatever other people want you to be, so that it finally comes to seem that, like the manager of the Central Station, you have nothing inside you at all. Not taking stupid risks like trying to change how things are done or question why they’re done. Just keeping the routine going..

Monday, January 03, 2011

Seven Samurai - Akira Kurosawa

Quite liked it, certainly more in the league of High and Low than like Red Beard.

A village is repeatedly attacked and stripped by bandits, until they decide to hire samurai and fight back. The first samurai is found, and in turn a team of 7 is built. The defense is planned and there are a few surprises on the way.

Overall rather longish for the modern day viewer I suppose, but still interesting.