Sunday, May 30, 2010

Caught between two Cultures

“These kind of marriages are good! The kids get the best of the both worlds”, said my friend while talking about marriages. Here, she was referring to the marriages in India and the advantages of cross pollinating the north and the south. The north and the south parts of India are very different in many aspects and marriages between people coming from these two region could yield interesting results! At that time, I was neither interested nor experienced in these matters! So, I remained silent.

Recently, I heard an anecdote about a couple. Their marriage was also a union of two cultures – American and Japanese. They have a child who is always getting into trouble like his peers! If the child is caught in the act by the parent who is American, the parent says, “Look into my eyes while I’m talking to you”. When caught by the parent who is Japanese, the parent says, “How dare you look into my eyes after doing this?”!

Picture Courtesy: http://www.bible.ca

Tags: Musings,Marriage,Culture

Friday, May 28, 2010

Movie: Singam

Mayilvahanam(Prakash Raj) is an influential person in Chennai who runs extortion business. He tracks the people investing in Chennai and slowly closes in on them when they can’t pull out! He then threatens to either disrupt their investments or kidnap their loved ones.

Durai Singam(Suriya) is a sub inspector at Nallur police station. He upholds the law in the little village and is respected by everyone. He also hails from the same village. Singam always wanted to run a departmental store like his father(Radha Ravi). But his father persuades him to become a cop.

Kavya(Anushka) comes to Nallur to visit her grandparents. During her visit, she falls in love with Singam. Later, Singam also reciprocates the feelings.

The rest of the movie deals with the battle between Singam and Mayilvahanam. The latter is forced to come to Nallur by Singam. In order to take revenge, Singam is forced to work in Chennai. What happens when Singam goes to Chennai is depicted in the rest of the movie.

Hari writes and directs this action movie. The story deals with an upright cop tackling a dreaded villain. It also shows the cop being triumphant in spite of being placed in unfamiliar environment and the meteoric rise of a honest cop. But, Hari is not able to tell us an interesting story despite the interesting premise. He relies on stunts that are neither choreographed artfully nor look believable. Hari also uses green screen for many stunts and other normal sequences giving the movie a mediocre look at many places. The graphics used to depict the ferociousness of the hero induce guffaws from the audience. The songs are a major speed breaker for the movie.

Surya is excellent as Singam. Always in character, he makes us sit up and wait for confrontation whenever he walks in. He breathes fire and continues to do that the entire movie. Suriya makes this movie watchable and bearable at the same time.

Anushka has a miniscule role. Prakash Raj reprises a role which he has done many times in the past! Radha Ravi as Singham’s father is perfect. Vivek irritates with his comedy. Veterans like Vijayakumar and Nasser have nothing much to offer.

Wait for the DVD. Even on DVD, you can only sit through this if you are Suriya fan.

Language: Tamil

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Picture Courtesy: Gallata

Tags: Movies,Suriya,Prakash Raj,Anushka,Hari,Action

Burqa ban

Test1 As part of a training conducted at work, we were all shown a set of photos and asked to choose among these for various roles in our organization. Since we were given nothing other than the photos, we had to rely on their appearance. The exercise was over in 5 minutes. When the choices were compared, it was a wake up call for me! Among the photos, there were a man wearing a keffiyeh and a woman wearing a burqa. None of the participants including me chose these two people for any role! I pride in being non-biased. But the reality is different! I’m prejudiced!

As a result, I look at France’s burqa ban in a different light. When I read the news, I was disgusted! My initial reaction was “why”; why do you play with religious sentiments? In a post-9/11 world, there is mistrust in the keffiyehs and the burqa. Your prejudices surface in a crowded place and your heart skips a beat. By banning burqa, France is homogenizing their residents. With this process, there are trying to remove not only the mistrust and fear in the beholder but also the danger for the one who wears these garments.

The mistrust and fear can be eradicated by creating awareness in people. An awareness campaign might take longer and would not yield the desired results. A burqa ban is more effective and painless than an awareness campaign on any day. But, isn’t it a failure of democracy when a section of people are forced out of their right to wear what they like or chose?

Tags: Musings,Burqa,Keffiyeh,France

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Courageous or Sentimental?

When Laila hit the eastern shores of India last week, the Government evacuated people along the eastern coast fearing the danger to the lives of the inhabitants. Even though this was done with good intentions, there was stiff resistance from a section of the residents. The people were being relocated to relief centers till Laila has left the shores and the ensuing danger was over. Then why did these people resist moving into a safer zone?

During the tsunami just after the Christmas day in 2005, there were alerts to the coastal areas in Kerala for moving to a safer zone. My maternal grandmother’s home is a stone’s throwaway from the sea. It was never so a few years back; with the sea encroaching the land slowly and steadily, my grandmother’s home became closer to the sea! At that time, my uncle remained in the home till the 11th hour before he moved to safety in a relative’s house. I was following up on this over phone from US and I never could understand why he chose to remain in the house till the 11th hour!

Even during danger, we do not leave behind our houses! But what drives us during such occasions? Are we courageous? Are we so blinded by sentiments that we are impervious to danger?

Picture Courtesy: http://www.unp.co.in

Tags: Musings,Laila,Tsunami

Monday, May 24, 2010

Movie: Up in the Air

Ryan Bingham(George Clooney) works as a consultant for a firm which offers specialized services in laying off employees. As part of his job, Ryan is always on the move hopping from one city to another on a plane and stays in hotels. His employer is based in Omaha. Although he has an apartment in the city, he seldom lives in it as he is always travelling. He also leads a secluded life with little interaction with his two sisters.

While staying at a hotel for one of his assignment, he meets Alex(Vera Farmiga) in the bar. Like Ryan, Alex is also frequent flyer. Ryan and Alex start talking to each other on topics like car rental agencies and preferred cards. Soon, they find common interests and they get attracted to each other. They begin a casual relationship.

Meanwhile, Ryan’s boss Craig Gregory(Jason Bateman) orders all his specialists back to their office in Omaha. At the staff meeting, Craig introduces Natalie Keener(Anna Kendrick). Natalie is fresh out of college and has a revolutionary idea to bring down the costs associated with their operations. She wants to train the consultants to do their work from their desks in Omaha over the internet.

Ryan opposes this idea and demonstrates to Natalie the flaws in her new approach. Craig orders Ryan to mentor Natalie for which Ryan reluctantly agrees. Now, Ryan and Natalie goes across the country hopping between cities where the former teaches the latter on how the industry works. The rest of movie revolves around what change happens in Ryan’s life due to the two new women.

Jason Reitman directs this movie that is loosely based on the eponymous novel by Walter Kim. It is difficult to empathize with lead character’s job! Yet, the director has succeeded in making the audience watch and wanting to know more about it. Jason uses humor to tell a story of a middle aged executive trying to find purpose of life. Jason places the camera very close to the actors limiting the viewer’s field of vision whereby the viewer concentrate on the performances.

George Clooney uses his charm and not the acting skills to portray Ryan Bingham. The lines he mouths are so interesting that we overlook his acting. Anna Kendrick impresses despite her character being an extension of the geeky girl she portrays in Twilight series. The cameos by Zach Galifianakis, J K Simmons and Sam Elliot helps are pleasant.

Go for it! This is a simple movie yet entertaining!

Language: English

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****

Tags: Movies,George Clooney,Vera Farmiga,Jason Bateman,Anna Kendrick,Jason Reitman,Drama

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Movie: Karthik Calling Karthik

Karthik(Farhan Akhtar) is an introvert who carries painful memories from his childhood about his deceased brother. He is constantly pestered by his landlord(Vipin Sharma). Karthik works for a construction company owned by Raj Kamath(Ram Kapoor). At work, Kamath always belittles Karthik in spite of the latter’s hard work. Often, his exemplary work gets unnoticed and the credit goes to his co-worker Ashish(Vivan Bhatena). Ashish is also dating their colleague Shonali Mukherjee(Deepika Padukone). Karthik is madly in love with Shonali. But Shonali is neither aware of Karthik’s existence nor his affection towards her.

One day, Karthik reaches home in early in the morning after spending the entire night at work. Before he could sleep, his boss Kamath orders him back to work and also shouts at him. Getting frustrated, Karthik breaks the phone. He later gets a new phone and installs it at his home. Very soon, an abusive Kamath throws Karthik out of the job. Unable to tolerate the inhuman treatment meted out to him anymore, Karthik attempts suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. When he is about to swallow the pills, the phone rings. The caller identifies himself as Karthik and the caller knows quite a lot about the Karthik. The caller encourages Karthik to be confident and speak his mind.

Next day, Karthik sets out with renewed vigor. He  first confronts his landlord and then Kamath. He is soon back in the office with a coveted post and a corner office. Then, he decides to change his life by courting Shonali. Karthik is successful in doing so. But soon, the mysterious caller who identifies himself as Karthik presents a lot of difficulties for him. The rest of movie tells us how Karthik overcomes these difficulties.

Vijay Lalwani makes an impressive debut as a director with this thriller. He has based the movie on his own script. Vijay has adopted the same directorial style as Farhan Akhtar. Like Farhan’s directorial ventures, this also has a natural pace which does not change throughout the movie. Towards the climax, he uses fast cuts and voice over to unravel the mystery. Except these scenes, Vijay has concentrated on the performance of the actors and the situations to create suspense, rush and also comedy. The background music is excellent which enhances the performances. The tone of the movie is as light dark in tone with the theme of the movie. The movie displays good production values.

Farhan Akhtar is excellent and uses an unique style of acting. He is never over the top and uses everything possible – facial expressions, postures and also body movements – to convey the feelings of Karthik. His performance is refreshingly different. The rest of the cast supports the lead actor and the director effectively.

Don’t miss it! But, be prepared for the natural pace.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ***

Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Tags: Movies,Farhan Akhtar,Vipin Sharma,Ram Kapoor,Vivan Bhatena,Deepika Padukone,Vijay Lalwani,Thriller

Friday, May 21, 2010

“Kites” drama at PVR Cinemas, Forum Mall

Picture What were Reliance Big Pictures and Rakesh Roshan thinking when they decided to release their new offering “Kites” in 46 screens across Karnataka? Don’t they know the rules of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce(KFCC)?According to the rules of KFCC, a non-Kannada movie can only released in 21 screens in the state! Knowing the stress behind a big budget movie, KFCC relaxed the rule for “Kites”! They magnanimously allowed the movie to be released in 24 screens instead of 21! That is when Reliance Big Pictures and Rakesh Roshan played dirty and released the movie on 46 screens!


When the day started, the twitter world had woken up with this news. But later the websites informed about the movie being shown planned at PVR and INOX. The rest of the halls chickened out! So, when I walked into the Forum Mall where PVR Cinemas is housed, I was not surprised to see cops standing at the entrance! The security personnel at the mall entrance frisked me thoroughly before letting me into the mall. At the PVR screen entrance, I could find more cops! Unless KFCC decides to unleash a mob here, there was no need for these many cops! But, it is always soothing to see the people in khakhi! Who am I to complain?


Despite all the security measures, the show was cancelled. There was a crowd gathered around the ticket counters just before the show! There were cameramen, KFCC men talking to the camera, onlookers crowding around the KFCC men and to top it all, the men in khakhi crowding around the onlookers leisurely. There was even a man controlling the KFCC crowd using a megaphone! How did the megaphone get inside the mall undetected? So much for security!


After cancelling the shows and taking out “Kites” from the LCD display on top of ticket counter, the KFCC crowd dispersed. A lot of gloomy folks came out of the cinema halls and queued to get their refunds. The PVR personnel scrambled to make sure they had enough cash in hand to refund these disappointed patrons. The patrons contemplated various other movies before they decided to try out the food court or shop at the Landmark bookstore.
So finally, who won? Did KFCC won? Yes, they did as they made sure “Kites” was not shown in the city! Did KFCC boost the ticket sales of Kannada movies? No, they did not as none of the viewers who came out decided to go for a Kannada movie! They opted either the food court or the bookstore.


Then, who lost? Did Big Pictures and Rakesh Roshan lose? Big Pictures and Rakesh Roshan would have suffered a very negligible drop in the collection as the movie is released all over the world and Karnataka only featured a minute fraction of the total screens! With two semi-naked bodies splashed across the posters, there will be enough audience – both first time and repeat – to make this movie a success. The boycott is futile!


The first and foremost losers are the exhibitors! In the olden days, they were known as theater owners. But now, they also have a fancy name! With the change in plan at the 11th hour, they would not have found a suitable replacement to attract the crowd.


On the same scale, coming very close to the exhibitors in a photo finish, are the residents of Bengaluru. The cops who should have been deployed for other activities like controlling crime or traffic were deployed here to watch a well played drama being enacted!
Tags: Bangalore,Kites,Big Pictures,Rakesh Roshan,KFCC,PVR,Kannada

Artist in my Home

Picture 023 When I came back from work on Wednesday, the four year old artist in my home beckoned me with a naughty and expectant smile on her lips. For past few months, my daughter has developed this habit. If she is awake when I get home, she has either something to tell or show me. She is usually awake till late in the night! If everyone is asleep in the house, then she tiptoes into the living room silently with a smile.

On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to make back to home when everyone was still awake. So, she signaled me and I followed her cue. When I entered the bedroom, she showed her creation on the whiteboard. It was a train! Even before I congratulated the young artist on the good work, I started asking a lot of questions. Where did you see the train? Did your grandfather help you?

She and her grandfather answered most of the questions. She drew the picture herself without taking any help! She was watching a movie. All of a sudden, she asked her grandfather to stop the movie. Then, she went to the whiteboard and drew the train! The movie featured a train in one of the scenes.

What amazed and intrigued me was she was able to reproduce the train from her memory as the whiteboard and TV are in two different rooms!

Picture 025 Picture 024

PS:

  • You can find the artist and the train in the picture. The other pictures are her quick creations!
  • If you are wondering which movie, it was the malayalam movie named Loudspeaker. I don’t remember the train sequence even though I have seen the movie!

Tags: Parenthood,Daughter,Artist,Train

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Movie: Whiteout

Carrie Stetko(Kate Beckinsale) is a US Marshall in a US base located in Antarctica. She relocated to this remote station in order to get away from her past demons. Due to an imminent whiteout, the entire base is about to be shut down in the next few hours and the residents are going to be evacuated. The entire people in the base are celebrating this. Carrie and her friend Dr John Fury(Tom Skeritt) are both looking forward to the warmer temperatures.

While everyone is partying, Carrie is informed about a body being discovered in a remote area. Carrie and John fly to the reported area on a plane with the help of Delfy(Columbus Short). They find the body and fly it back to the base for examination. They find wounds on the body that was stitched in a hurry. The body is identified to be of a scientist who was part of a group searching for meteorites.

Now, Carrie attempts to solve this murder before the base is evacuated. After a nearly fatal encounter with the killer, a UN security agent Robert Pryce(Gabriel Macht) also joins Carrie. The rest of the movie shows us how Carrie solves the murder.

Dominic Sena directs this thriller. As there only a few characters, the real culprit can easily be guessed early on in the movie which is the drawback.

Kate Beckinsale has to look beautiful and act puzzled which she does perfectly. The rest of the performances has nothing to write about.

There is suspense and the pace is slow. Save this for a rainy day when you do not have anything else to do.

Language: English

Genre: Thriller

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Kate Beckinsale,Tom Skeritt,Columbus Short,Gabriel Macht,Thriller

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Movie: The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

After fleeing from Boston, the Saints aka the MacManus brothers - Connor(Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy(Norman Reedus) - are living in Ireland with their dad Noah(Billy Connolly). Their quiet life is interrupted by a murder in Boston. The murderer has followed their assassination style. Now, the public is divided as some think Saints are behind the murder while the rest do not think so. The brothers set off to Boston to find the perpetrator. During their journey by ship, they befriend Romeo(Clifton Collins, Jr.) who become a sidekick of the Saints.

Meanwhile in Boston, Detective Dolly, Duffy and Greenly are frightened by the murder. They had earlier assisted the Saints in killing the gangster named Papa Joe and also aiding the Saints to escape. As FBI is investigating the murder, they are afraid their involvement will come to light. As they contemplate on their next move, Special Agent Eunice Bloom(Julie Benz) arrives. She reconstructs the murder scene and absolves the Saints from the murder charge. The murder was committed by an another assassin trying to emulate the Saints style.

The assassin was hired by Concezio Yakavette, Papa Joe’s son, in order to smoke out the Saints. Very soon, all three different groups – the Saints, the cops and the gangsters – collide bringing out many skeletons from the closet.

Troy Duffy writes and directs the sequel to the well liked first part.He continues to give the same treatment to this movie as the first part. He shows his heroes getting ready for the fight. Then he immediately cut to the scene where the police investigation is progressing after the fight. Here, he cuts back to the action when the lead investigator reconstructs the scene. Using the technique, the outcome is right there in front of the viewer. Yet, the viewer is eager to find out how it actually happened. The story is predictable. But the narration is interesting. The dialogues are excellent.

Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus are perfect as the Saints. Julie Benz provides a good replacement for William Dafoe in the sequel. Her Eunice is intellect oozing oomph. Peter Fonda in a very brief role is spectacular.

If you love action, blood, swearing and slow motion, this is for you! A must watch.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: ***

Tags: Movies,Sean Patrick Flanery,Norman Reedus,Billy Connolly,Clifton Collins Jr,Troy Duffy,Action

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mamata and the People!

After losing two lives in the stampede at New Delhi Railway station, Mamata Banerjee was quick to find out the root cause. She attributed the problem to the people; not her people who was in charge of the station but the people who were the passengers. Can you blame her for complaining about her customers? Haven’t we all done this in our past? The customer being the king can also be difficult!

But why is stampede not happening in any other cities? Are people more disciplined in the other cities? Even though there is a dash of regionalism in the previous statement, I can’t help in thinking so!

Even before Mamata’s statement sunk in, the people turned out to be a secondary cause. The root cause was the “condition” near Foot Over Bridge by unfortunate tripping. There was no stampede!

Be it stampede or tripping, this was caused by hurry on the part of the people. The officials had changed the platform of departure at short notice and the people were in a hurry to catch their train. When the trains stick to their departure time, there is a need to hurry. Mamata can be proud of making trains stick to their departure time! We will conveniently overlook the arrival time!

The people need to learn on how to react under stressful conditions!

Picture Courtesy: Rediff

Tags: Musings,Mamata Banerjee,People,Stampede

Monday, May 17, 2010

Do you give feedback to the waiter?

Picture Last week, while having lunch in one of the restaurants nearby my office, the waiter placed an empty glass on my table. The waiter’s index finger was sticking inside the glass when he placed it on my table. So, I gently asked him to replace the glasses and requested him to be careful about his finger during the second act. Sensing something amiss, , the owner-cum-manager approached our table. By this time, the waiter was embarrassed either with his inability to understand me or by fully realizing his folly. But he was not the only one who was embarrassed; so was everyone else around the table. I gently told the manager to replace the glass without elaborating on why.

A few weeks back, I gave feedback to a waiter in another restaurant on the way they cooked a particular dish of beef. It was overcooked! So, I went on explain them on various reasons why I did not like the dish. I was trying to give them genuine feedback instead of creating a scene. But my friend sitting opposite me tensed as I carefully dissected the demerits of the dish. When the waiter left, he confessed about his discomfort as he feared the staff inside the kitchen would exact revenge for my feedback!

A few months back, when I was about to devour my favorite type of sandwich at one of my favorite restaurant, I noticed a small living thing crawling into the plate from the table and taking a stroll inside the plate. Immediately, I signaled the manager to come over to our table. When he came over, I requested to take the plate away after showing him the intruder. They obliged and gave me a fresh sandwich. Luckily, my friends around the table were not embarrassed at my antics.

What do you do in such situations? Do you give quiet feedback? Do you make a scene? Do you embarrass your friends?

Tags: Musings,Embarrass,Feedback

Movie: Rachel Getting Married

Kym(Anne Hathaway) is released from the rehabilitation center for attending her sister Rachel’s wedding. She is greeted by her dad Paul(Bill Irwin) who drives her home. Paul has divorced his first wife Abby(Debra Winger) who is the mother of Rachel and Kym. After the divorce, Paul has married Carol who lives with him now.

At the house, Rachel(Rosemarie DeWitt) and Kym are slightly embarrassed after meeting. Very soon, the past catches up with the siblings and their interactions become strained. Paul gets caught up between the two siblings. How they nearly overcome their difference and also nearly come to terms with the past tragedy forms the rest of the story.

Jonathan Demme directs this drama about a family coming to terms with loss and each other based on a script by Jenny Lumet. Five minutes into the movie, you realize Kym is a misfit and the marriage proceedings are going to be interesting. But Jonathan and Jenny is able to tell a heartwarming story of a misfit while keeping us hooked onto the seat. Jonathan has shot the movie to give it a feel of a wedding video. The camera shakes and spies on the actors.

Anne Hathaway is perfect as Kym and attempting a role which she has not done before. Her performance irks the viewer and also gets their sympathy. Check out her performance towards the end where seeks her mother’s forgiveness and acknowledgement.

Bill Irwin’s Paul is a background player who gets caught up between his daughters. He has gotten over the tragedy and wants to hold his children closer to him. He is excellent during the end of dishwasher scene and also when he breaks up after seeing his kids fight. In spite of being a background player, his performance gets noticed.

Watch it when you are in the mood for a serious performance oriented movie. This is worth watching.

Language: English

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****

Tags: Movies,Anne Hathaway,Bill Irwin,Rosemarie DeWitt,Debra Winger,Jonathan Demme,Jenny Lumet,Drama

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Movie: Rambo

John Rambo(Sylvester Stallone) lives in Thailand now. He earns his living by operating his boat to transport people and also by catching deadly snakes for selling them. He is approached by a group of missionaries headed by Michael Burnett(Paul Schultze) and Sarah Miller(Julie Benz) to transport them upriver into Burma. Rambo refuses. But Sarah convinces him to help eventually.

While transporting the missionaries into Burma, Rambo and the group has a showdown with local smugglers who control the river. Rambo kills them in order to save Sarah. Upon reaching the destination, an upset Michael sends Rambo back by terminating his services.

Back in Thailand, Rambo is again approached by a pastor. The pastor tells Rambo that Michael and Sarah are captured by Tatmadaw. A group of mercenaries have been hired by the pastor. He asks Rambo to transport them to the location where the latter had dropped Michael and Sarah. Rambo obliges. Before long, Rambo gets involved in the quest and the subsequent fight.

Sylvester Stallone directs the fourth installment in this series. Instead of concentrating on the one man’s (Rambo’s) struggle against the establishment (or the villains), Stallone focuses on the bloodshed this time. This leads to gory scenes where bloodshed and mutilation are shown over and over. The tone of the movie and the action scenes are a departure from the earlier ones in the series. The movie is also handicapped with respect to background score. Earlier movies featured brilliant score by Jerry Goldsmith. As Jerry is no more, Bryan Tyler is selected. Bryan fails in generating suspense and also pumping adrenaline with his score.

The performances are mediocre. This is expected in a movie like this where action takes precedence.

This is a disappointment for a Rambo fan! Skip this!

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Sylvester Stallone,Action

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I can be a manager!

Picture 008 “I do not know how to solve this!”, my geeky friend exclaimed. We have been working together for past three years. But three years feels like ages now. With the passage of time, we have become good friends. Though I have been assigned as his manager, I am often embarrassed to be introduced as his manager on social occasions as our friendship goes beyond work.

On hearing him crying out loud, I sensed an excellent opportunity for playfully belittling him. So, I closed in for the kill. While closing in, I rehearsed the ensuing conversation in my head. In my imagination, the scene would have played out like this. I approach him. Then I shout, “You do not have good technical skills. That is why you can’t solve this”. He replies back immediately, “If I’m not good enough, chuck me out of this project”. For this retort, I triumphantly reply, “Because you are not good enough, I will make you work hard till you are good enough. Now, go back to the problem and come out with a solution!”. I walk away leaving behind a frustrated and confused geek.

Having rehearsed this scene in my mind, I approached him. Then I said, “You do not have good technical skills. That is why you can’t solve this”. He replied back immediately, “That means, now I can be a manager!”.

Tags: Musings,Manager,Geek

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Case of the Missing Sunglasses

Fastrack On his way to Kerala, my friend halted his car near Mettur dam to admire the nature. I was amused when he talked about the nature and dam in the same breath. Is it really nature after building a dam? Aren’t we distorting the nature with the dam? Moreover, aren’t dams dangerous? The water levels are alarmingly high on one side and there is little water coming out of the other side. It is as if water is constantly rebelling against the wall to break free. The wall that was designed by a fellow human being who may be prone to errors.

In the process of admiring the nature, the sunglasses worn by him became an impediment. The nature was doctored before it reached his eyes. He removed his sunglasses grudgingly. He loved his sunglasses. It was evident to all his friends in the way he boasted about the brand Fastrack and in the way he put it on as soon as he spotted a camera. A brief period of time elapsed while he looked around for a suitable holding place for the sunglasses. Finally, he placed the sunglasses on the roof of his car. It was within reach now, never out of his sight. Then, he took a deep breath to fill his lungs with a load of fresh air. After the reinvigoration process, he resumed his journey.

Very soon, he realized his sunglasses were missing and hit on the brakes. By that time, he had travelled for a few minutes and quite a distance. After doing the math in his mind about the whereabouts of the sunglasses, he stepped out of the car to check the roof. The sunglasses might still be there! For someone who doesn’t know my friend, this will seem logical. But knowing his penchant for speed, I classified this move as overly optimistic. The sunglasses weren’t on the roof.

He languished in despair thinking about a future without the Fastrack glasses. He contemplated a reconnaissance operation on the road he travelled. While absentmindedly staring at the road, he noticed a moped coming from the direction of the dam. He decided on asking the rider about the missing sunglasses. He was hoping against hope. A crowd might have gathered around the sunglasses wherever it was lost. This rider would have noticed the crowd. Hence, the rider will be able to lead him to his precious possession.

As the distance between them became closer, the rider shifted to right side of the road away from the side of the road where my friend had parked his car. My friend was perplexed. Then, he noticed the sunglasses on the rider! From that distance, he was able to distinguish the sunglasses. It was a Fastrack sunglass, of the same make as his missing sunglasses. Gathering courage, he exclaimed at the rider straining his vocal chords, “I lost a sunglass very similar to the one you are wearing. Are those mine? Did you find it on the road?”.

The moped rider increased the speed and kept on to the right side of the road. He replied as he fled away, “No! I’m wearing mine! I got it free as an accessory when I bought this moped!”.

Tags: Musings,Mettur,Dam,Sunglasses,Fastrack

Movie: Paappi Appacha

paappi_wallpaper_1 Nirappel Mathai(Innocent) and Nirappel Paappi(Dileep) are a father-son duo who controls all the major businesses in their village Ithirikandam. Mathai and Paappi are share a beautiful camaraderie which goes beyond father-son relationship. As part of expanding their businesses, they invest the money in various other businesses. When they are short of cash, they burn down one of their institutions and collect money from the insurance company. Mathai’s wife, Mariya(KPAC Lalitha), hates the wayward lifestyle of the men in her house.

Paappi nurses a secret love towards Annie(Kavya Madhavan). Annie works as a teacher in the school managed by the father-son duo. During childhood, Annie and Paappi were friends. But they stopped talking to each other when a reckless act of Paappi hurt Annie. Now, the whole world knows the secret love of Paappi and his friend-cum-assistant Kuttappi(Dharmajan) helps him.

When the Panchayat elections are around the corner, Annie is persuaded to stand against Paappi by her colleague Dasan(Rajeevan). In order to bankroll the election, Dasan enlists the help of Shashankan(Asokan), a rich businessman who hates the father-son duo. As the election fever heats up, a new businessman named Maanikunju(Suresh Krishna) lands up in the village. He intends to displace the father-son duo. His first attempt fails.

When the election results are out, Paappi loses. Very soon, misunderstanding crops up between the father and the son. They separate and their enemies close in. The rest of the story focuses on this and how everything ends well.

Mamas debuts as a director with this movie based on his script. The movie is predictable as it is a rehash of several successful movies in the past. For a comedy movie, there are very few laughs! The surprising part of this movie are the various action sequences by “Stun” Siva. The action sequences are modeled on Tamil movies and are cut cleverly to hide the rope-and-pulley technique used.

Innocent and Dileep are perfect as the father-son duo. But, they are not spectacular as we have seen these actors in funnier roles. Dharmajan impresses. The rest of the cast is okay.

Opt for this one if you do not have any other choice. There are occasional laughs that will keep boredom away.

Language: Malayalam

Genre: Comedy

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Dileep,Innocent,Kavya Madhavan,Asokan,Suresh Krishna,Dharmajan,Mamas,Stun Siva,Comedy

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Movie: Iron Man 2

Tony Stark(Robert Downey Jr) enjoys being the Iron Man now. As per his dad’s wishes, Tony kicks off an year long Stark Expo. On the way back from the expo, Tony is served a subpoena to appear before Senate Committee. At the Senate committee, Senator Stern(Garry Shandling) along with Justin Hammer(Sam Rockwell), a Stark-rival, forces Tony to handover the Iron Man “weapon” to the government. In order to further twist Tony’s arm, Senator Stern deliberately misinterprets a report by Lt. Colonel James “Rhody” Rhodes(Don Cheadle), Tony’s best friend. But, Tony does not succumb to the pressure and puts Stern and Hammer in a tight position before extricating himself.

Unknown to even his personal assistant Pepper Potts(Gwyneth Paltrow), Tony’s health is deteriorating because of the palladium in the arc reactor which keep his alive. Despite trying, Tony is not able to tell this to Pepper. Seeing the imminent death, Tony makes Pepper the new CEO of Stark Industries. He also hires Natalie Rushman(Scarlett Johansson) in Pepper’s old position. After handing over control to Pepper, Tony leaves for Monaco. At Monaco, Tony enters a car race. But, he is confronted by Ivan Vanko(Mickey Rourke) who has also created an arc reactor like that of Tony and also possesses a whip which wields electricity. Tony captures Ivan thanks to the timely intervention by Pepper and Happy Hogan(Jon Favreau). Ivan in the police custody accuses Tony’s father of stealing the technology made by Ivan’s father. Later, Ivan escapes from the prison with the help of Hammer. Ivan agrees to help Hammer in building better combat units and subsequently displacing Stark Industries.

Now, the government is closing on Tony to release the Iron Man technology. He is confronted by his friend Rhodey who also steals an armor from Tony’s repository. Tony is approached by Nick Fury(Samuel L Jackson) the director of SHIELD. Vanko makes good progress with combat units. Tony’s health worsens. The rest of the story deals with how Tony deals with all of these.

Jon Favreau returns to direct the sequel to the hugely successful Iron Man. Like in the first one, the sequel also heavily depends on visual effects. This time around, there are too many characters resulting in overcrowding the screen. As there are too many characters, a lot of time goes in explaining the stories or motives associated with each. So, the major part of the movie is conversational and the action heats up only towards the last 20 minutes. This comes as a major disappointment. The first movie had good amount of action interspersed with the story telling.

Robert Downey Jr is excellent as Tony Stark. He makes the character cocky and confident. He is a bit more mature than the first movie but still unpredictable. Micky Rourke is menacing without putting in much efforts. Sam Rockwell is funny. The rest of the cast fits the bill.

If you are expecting action, then this is the wrong movie! If you want to see Tony Stark and enjoy his unpredictable behavior along with his one-liners, go for this one.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Robert Downey Jr,Gwyneth Paltrow,Don Cheadle,Scarlett Johansson,Sam Rockwell,Garry Shandling,Samuel L Jackson,Mickey Rourke,Jon Favreau,Action

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Movie: Did You Hear About the Morgans?

The Morgans – Paul Micheal Morgan(Hugh Grant) and Meryl Judith Morgan(Sarah Jessica Parker) – have been leading a separated life after Paul sleeps around with a colleague on a business trip. Meryl is a highly successful real estate agent while Paul  is a lawyer and they live in Manhattan. Now, Paul is sorry for his shameful act and wants to patch up with Meryl. As a result, he pursues her and persuades her to have dinner with him.

After the dinner, they take a walk outside the restaurant immersed in talk. During the stroll outside, they witness a murder. Before the murderer could get to them, the cops arrive. Subsequently, the Morgans are put into witness protection plan. They are transported to Ray, Wyoming and placed under the custody of US Marshals – Clay Wheeler(Sam Elliott) and Emma Wheeler(Mary Steenburgen). The rest of the movie shows us how the country life has a positive effect on the relationship of the Morgans and also how they apprehend the murderer.

Marc Lawrence writes and directs this comedy. The only novel element of the movie is the casting of the lead pair. Unfortunately, the lead pair do not have terrific chemistry. They also put in an uninspired performance. The Wheelers provide us a few clich├ęd laughs.

Give this one a skip! You do not want to hear about the Morgans!

Language: English

Genre: Comedy

Rating: *

Tags: Movies,Hugh Grant,Sarah Jessica Parker,Sam Elliot,Mary Steenburgen,Marc Lawrence,Comedy

Friday, May 7, 2010

Here is the chance to spy…

Have you ever harbored a secret desire to spy on a friend?

Here is your chance!

Limited time offer!

Tags: Videos,Facebook

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Movie: Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?

Puneet(Ajay Devgn) is a scriptwriter working for Taneja(Satish Kaushik) and Suleman Bhai(Akhilendra Mishra). After impressing them with a one-liner script, he promises to complete the script within a stipulated period of time. His family comprises of his wife Munmun(Konkana Sen Sharma) and his son Ayush. Munmun works as a interior decorator while his Ayush is going to school. They live a secluded urban life away from their close relatives. Their son do not know what is the meaning of Atithi and often prays to have a visitor in his house.

One day, they meet Lambodar(Paresh Rawal) in front of their apartment. Lambodar claims to be a distant chacha looking for Pappu aka Puneet. Having left with no other option, they invite Lambodar into their home and tries to do everything possible to make his stay comfortable. But Puneet and Munmun are not able to cope with their visitor who overstays his visit. The mannerisms, the direct approach and overly friendly nature of Lambodar thwarts their quiet life – both personal and professional. Soon, they strongly wish for Lambodar’s quick exit from their lives. The rest of story tells how Lambodar complicate their lives and also solve their problems indirectly.

Ashwani Dhir pens the story and also directs this comedy. The laughs are based on Lambodar’s mannerisms and lifestyle which directly conflicts with the non-interfering urban life. In spite of being predictable at many places, the movie still places a few smiles on your lips. The movie is short and hence a very brisk watch. The songs slows the narrative. To our relief, the songs also get over fast. Three music directors have been used. The religious take of “Beedi jalaile” as “Jyoti jalaile” by Vishal Bharadwaj is funny. The movies bases itself on the goodness of the human beings and how good things happens to good people.

Paresh Rawal is excellent as Lambodar. The entire story revolves around him. As Puneet, Ajay Devgn do not crack any jokes. But he has perfect comic timing as evident from the way he reacts to situations. Watch out how he slyly turns away his eyes whenever his wife gets irritated by Lambodar. As Lambodar is Puneet’s chacha, she has every right to complain and Puneet wants to extricate himself out of the situation. Konkana Sen Sharma’s Munmun gets lost behind Paresh and Ajay due to no fault of hers. The director concentrates on Lambodar and Puneet and hence relegates Munmun to the background. She is at ease as Munmun. But the audience will not notice he as the frame is mostly dominated by Lambodar and Puneet.

In the supporting cast, Satish Kaushik and Mukesh Tiwari(as the inspector) are funny. Akhilendra Mishra reprises the kind of roles he has done in the past and hence do not impress. Sanjay Mishra is wasted since he is given a role in which his comedic skills are not required.

At a running time similar to that of Hollywood movie, this does not try your patience. Go for it if you want to see a feel-good movie with occasional smiles.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Comedy

Rating: **

Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Tags: Movies,Ajay Devgn,Konkana+Sen+Sharma,Paresh Rawal,Ashwani Dhir,Comedy

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gloomy during betrothal

“Why are you looking gloomy?”, I asked my friend when he showed me the pictures of his betrothal ceremony. This friend of mine has been searching for a suitable girl for a very long time! A few seasons had transpired since and even the face of Bengaluru has changed after he embarked on this quest! The fact my friend has a shuddha jathakam complicated the whole process.

Under normal circumstances, he always has a big smile on his face. He also has a quick comeback for everything! His engagement had been fixed while I was away on vacation. So, the first thing I did after entering the office was to find him and congratulate him. While hanging around his workplace, he showed me the pictures of the engagement ceremony. In the picture, the girl was beaming from ear to ear. But, my friend had a trace of a smile on his lips. He looked as if he was lost in thoughts!

When I asked the reason for the gloominess, he remained silent. I also added, “She looks very happy”. On hearing this, he smiled. He replied with a laugh, “The conqueror is always happy!”. He let me use my imagination about the conquered!

A couple of days later, he still looked gloomy! Before engagement, he used to sleep till 8 am in the morning. But after engagement, he gets a wake up call from his future-wife-to-be at 7 am everyday!

Picture Courtesy: www.travelpod.com

Tags: Musings,Betrothal,Gloomy

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