Says Yoda, he does – With you, the force shall be

Bring to you news, I do tonight. Not any exciting news, that is. About my tiring day, this news is. Just getting better from a flu, I was, when as usual, to office, I had to venture. Decided for a team lunch today, my boss had. Traditional, the food at this restaurant called ‘The Village’ was.

Back to the office it was then, an hour later. Free lunch in the tummy, loaded with work I was. Won’t let me keep my eyes open, the food inside of me; but on my head all the time, the boss was. Slogging for hours, then I was, when eventually finished the all that work was. Looked up and 10 on the clock it was. Skipped the dinner was. Tonight, the lunch it shall be, happy that keeps the tummy.

Finally, home I was. Had decided to study, I had; but taken its toll, the day had. On the tele, played football they did; and rather gave up studying to watch I did. Time to write the blog it was then, when Master Yoda, came to me he did. Said to me he did – Enjoy life shall you, you geezer. Share my message, you will. With you, the force shall be then.

Not bash me for this post, you shall. Came out of a tired mind, it did. Make more sense, I shall tomorrow.

Apologies ‘Mr. Minister’

First of all, I’m not yet ready with the promised piece on architecture as a career option. However, in building the work, I have compiled a basic set of questions which I shall be covering –

1. Why should you choose architecture ?

2. How do you prepare for the various architecture exams during the formative (+2) years ?

3. What exams can you give for admission to the best colleges ?

4. What colleges can you choose, by cut-offs ?

5. And finally, which are the best rated architecture colleges in the country, according to both, students and employers ?

I hope it makes informative reading. I should confess, at this point, that I haven’t been able to go too far in my research as yet.

Now over to the day’s review. The highlight has to be Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai. I went into this movie with high expectations, but somehow it never really clicked with me.

Not for a moment, would I blame it on the performances by the cast. I thought Emraan (sir) was once again excellent, and Abhay Deol was a perfectionist as ever. Kalki Koechlin was once again on her ‘wacky’ act (which, although strong, has now started becoming repetitive and irritating). There was that imaginative camerawork and story-telling, but then it all just didn’t click. Why ? Because it was all just once too much. It was all that modern cinema in a story told too many times – about corrupt politicians, innocent rebels becoming victims, protagonists fighting for their rights and so on. Shanghai is slow-paced, and grows up on you so much so that by the end you just want it to end. I am a fan of this brand of movie-making, but I don’t accept redundancy easily, unless it has a spark about it.

I’d go for a 2/5 for Shanghai. I do recommend it as a one-time watch, especially for the great Farooq Sheikh

The evening ends here with a very well-deserved win for Croatia over Northern Ireland in the group C game of Euro 2012 at Poznan. The entire Croat squad really impressed me tonight, and with Spain’s draw against Italy earlier, I would really fancy them to make it to the quarter-finals.

Have a safe night everyone.

Yeh Saali Zindagi

YSZ is not really refreshing, its not something we haven’t already been coming across with all the smart Indian flicks these days, but where it does captivate you is its strong dialog, the inter-twined fates of its characters, and some really brave character acting. And to that you can add a little bit of Irrfan Khan!

Irrfan Khan & Chitrangda Singh

The story is about 2 Delhi goons, Arun (Irrfan, who is more of a corporate thug cum gangster) and Kuldeep (Arunoday Singh, your perfect Purani-Dilli gang member), who are desperately both in love, or rather trying to win their love back, and at the same time, entangled with their dirty money jobs. Their love interests are played by Chitrangda Singh (Priti, who waits for Arun to propose, and waiting too long, starts dating another guy) and Aditi Rao ( Kuldeep’s wife, who’s irritated by his dirty work, but extremely passionate about him ). The story keeps flirting between undertones ofobsession, crime, extortion, cheating and gang brawls, all of the while, with some really witty humor sprinkled all over by some of the best raw dialog of recent times.

While the genre is a familiar one, director Sudhir Mishra’s treatment is refreshingly zany. In place of gloss and gimmicks, he goes for the brash brutalities of love and lost love with layers of inter-twined protagonists with dedicated precision and subtext. But, the real deal-clincher is the very real-world ( full of everyday abuse ) dialog, arguably better than the likes of Kaminey ( although I don’t remember watching that movie ), and full of stimulating wit, which keeps you hungry for its next bit all the time. The background score  is well in sync with the storyline, with some really hilarious/sensuous themes packed along with the fast paced Dilli music.

It is a fast-paced black comedy, that made the multiplex audiences go hooting last night, so it has to be worth the dime, and a little more. Irrfan Khan is once again, back to his best, and Chitrangda Singh really keeps catching the eye. This would probably be my first Bollywood review, so I guess watch it for that !

Rating – 8/10

Movie Review: Themba ( A boy called hope )

First of all, Happy New Years everyone. 🙂

So,  we had decided to go for the Pune International Film Festival this weekend, and I’ll try my best to review all the movies I could go for. Today, this German/South African movie, Themba, was playing at the screen nearest to my place. I had half agreed for it since my friend mentioned it had Jens Lehmann (Yes, the former Arsenal goalie) in it,and basically I love sports movies.

But Themba is so much more than a soccer movie. Its not the best movie ever made, and that would purely be down to the budgets, but its certainly an exhilarating experience, right from the beautiful east-cost South African coast line to the laid back Capetown.Truly, one of the line of those excellent African world cinema features, read Hotel Rwanda, Last King of Scotland, Blood Diamond , et al. Themba, a Xhosa boy who lives with his mom Mandisa  and sister Nomtha in a rural part of the Eastern Cape. They stay in a hut on a hill near Port St. Johns, and the view, like the countryside, is beautiful. But Themba’s dad, Vuyo deserted the family four years ago and their life is a daily struggle. Mandisa takes in former mine worker, Luthando as a lodger. He becomes her lover, so when she loses her job and must travel to Cape Town to find work, Luthando – who drinks to much – stays on to look after the kids. Themba is an extremely talented footballer, but his life is extremely poverty ridden and diseased. But, despite a string of despairing events and hardships, Themba wants to keep fighting for his dream to represent the South African national football team – the Bafana Bafana.  The movie also sends out a lots’ve messages, especially focusing on HIV, and the situation in Africa.

Themba is in no way very original, and we’ve all seen movies about achieving dreams despite adversity, but its beautifully strung together, and the locations and filming are out of the world. Its a sweet little story, but truly a very strong one at that. Watch it for just going through the essence of mesmerizing cinematography once again.

8.5/10 for just the purity of cinema here !

Kart’s Spring Summer Collection 2009

The best i’ve come across this year:

1. TV Show, UK- Skins

2. Song (+ lyrics ), Blue October – Hate Me

3.Movie, UK – Trainspotting

3. Movie, Indian – Dev D

5. Movie,Indian – Luck By Chance

6. Movie,USA – The Wrestler

6. Movie ( Series ), USA – Kill Bill

8. Movie ( Series ),USA – Star Wars

9. Movie ( Series ), USA – X-Men

10. TV Show, USA – Californication

X/Y

Now that the 3 day break is doing its last moments, here’s what I’ve been through:

Tropic Thunder: 9/10

How to lose friends and alienate people: 6/10

Dev D: 10/10

Australia: 8/10

Back To The Future -1: 7/10

Cloverfield: 9/10

Kill Bill Vol.1: 10/10

Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels: 8/10

TV

Lost s05e08: 9/10
How I Met Your Mother s04e16: 5/10
Heroes s03e19: 6/10
The Big Bang Theory s02e17: 8/10
Kyle XY s03e09: 6/10
Some of the regular South Park: 6/10

The best entertainment of 2008!!*

2008 would probably be an year i’d remember more for the sporting entertainment it provided compared to anything to do with film and television. Here i list some of the best from the year-gone-by.

(*only includes events i witnessed myself)

1. UEFA Champions League Final- Chelsea vs Manchester United, May 21st 2008, Moscow.

2. Indian Premier League Final- Rajasthan Royals vs CSK, June 1 2008, Navi Mumbai.

3. CB series Finals (India vs Australia), Jan -Feb 2008, Australia; & Australia tour of India, Nov-Dec 2008.

4. The Dark Knight ( July 2008 )

5. US President Elect Barack Obama’s victory speech, Nov 5th 2008, Chicago.

6. How I met your mother ( Season 4, TV)

7. Welcome to Sajjanpur ( Sept 2008 )

8. Heroes (Season 3, TV)

9. Everton vs Aston Villa, EPL, Dec 7th 2008.

10. Russia vs Holland, UEFA Euro -2008, Jun 21st 2008.

11. Usain Bolt’s WR sprints, Beijing Olympics, August 2008.

12. US President George W. Bush getting the ‘boot’ from Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, Dec 14th 2008.

13. Burn after reading (Sept 2008).

Slumdog Millionaire…just what i think as well

This was a very interesting review to Slumdog that i found here. I feel this is exactly how i’d describe my Slumdog experience….

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I did not like “Slumdog Millionaire”. Or perhaps I should say I was not at all impressed. Maybe it was all the hype, the Oscar buzz and the “It is soooo awesome” first-person accounts I have heard over the last few weeks that led me to go into the theater with unrealistic expectations. Perhaps.

First let us get the standard attacks on reviews one does not like out of the way.

Yes yes I am being contrarian to get attention.

Yes yes I am too idiotic to understand a truly great movie.

Yes yes I suffer from a third-world siege mentality where I am offended by anything that does not show my country in a purely positive light.

If we can now move beyond these, then let us proceed.

And yes. If you have not seen the movie, then perhaps you are better off not going below the fold (though I try my best not to give away the ending) if you want to “experience” without any pre-knowledge this supposed masterpiece.

There is a difference between clever film-making and great film-making. Make no mistake, Danny Boyle is immensely clever. “Slumdog Millionaire” is made as an out-and-out “crowd-pleaser” through proper audience-targetting which is done in the same careful way the Chopras target the lovey-dovey high school/college crowd and the Anil Sharmas target the uber-patriots.

This crowd-pleasing is done through punching together as many stereotypes that Westerners have about India as is humanly possible. People live in garbage heaps. A character jumps into a huge heap of human excreta and without batting an eyelid comes running out covered in brown slime, as if its the most natural thing in India, to get an autograph of a star. The hero, a Muslim, sees his family slaughtered by Hindu rioters and sees along with it a rioting kid (presumably) dressed as Lord Rama, in blue paint and with a bow and arrow in hand, standing as a sentinel of doom, an image whose indelibility in the character’s mind becomes a principal plot point.

A character is booked on the flimsiest of charges and then he is beaten black and blue in a police station and given volts of electricity.

What else? Let’s see.

Child prostitution. Check.

Forced begging. Check.

Blindings of innocent children. Check.

Rape. Check.

Human filth. Bahoot hain sahab.

Call centers. Oh yes most certainly.

Destiny. Of course.

But wait. Do Hindu saffron-clothed Ram Senas not run havoc through Muslim slums? Do street kids not get taken in by beggar gangs and maimed? Doesnt rape happen in India? Are those slums specially constructed sets? Why do you, third world denizen, get so defensive about your own country? Chill.

Well yes these things do happen in India. However the problem is when you show every hellish thing possible all happening to the same person. Then it stretches reason and believability and just looks like you are packing in every negative thing that Westerners perceive about India for the sake of “crowd pleasing”. Because audiences and jury members “feel good” when their pre-conceived notions are confirmed. On the flip side, nothing disquiets a viewer as much as when his/her prejudices are challenged. So Boyle does the safe thing.

Let’s say I made a movie about the US where an African-American boy born in the hood, has his mother sell him to a pedophile pop icon, after which he gets molested by a priest from his church, following which he gets tied up to the back of a truck and dragged on the road by KKK clansmen. Then he is arrested and sodomized by a policeman with a rod, after which he is attacked by a gang of illegal immigrants, and then uses these life experiences to win “Beauty and Geek”.

Even though each of these incidents have actually happened in the United States of America, I would be accused of spinning a fantastic yarn that has no grounding in reality, that has no connection to the “American experience” and my motivations would be questioned, no matter how cinematically spectacular I made my movie. At the very least, I wouldn’t be on 94% on Tomatometer and a strong Oscar favorite.

But then you say—Boyle is constructing a fairytale, a dash of Indian exotica, a love story. Surely he can take liberties. Make the darkness darker in order to brighten the halo around the hero and heroine.

Ok I get it. That’s why the first shot of Taj Mahal is through filth, when any other shot would have done. That’s why the host of Millionaire is shown heartlessly mocking the fact that the contestant is a humble “chaiwala” as the audience laughs with him in a way that reminded me of Amrish Puri, rolling his eyes and saying “Tu to gandhi naali ka keeddaaaa hainnnn”. Even though this kind of class-based running down will never ever happen on “Millionaire” if for nothing else than political correctness , lets accept it happens just to heighten the drama.

Which brings us to the main weakness of “Slumdog Millionaire”. There are way too many things you have to “accept” in order to enjoy this supposed “glorious celebration of exotica” , too many plot contrivances, too many loopholes you can drive a truck through that you have to turn a blind eye too.

Suspension of disbelief is one thing, after all movies are not logic proofs. But “Slumdog” sometimes gets so focused on the “scents” (excreta) and “sounds” (pain) of India that it does not bother to even try to make some of the fantastic coincidences look even moderately plausible.

But then again, as you said, it is a fairytale. Which means it has infinite license for taking liberties.

The thing is that the same people who are going ga-ga over “Slumdog” saying “Areee yaar, dont over-analyze. Dont see it from a realist perspective. Just enjoy the ride” will go and say “What! She cannot recognize Shahrukh Khan just because he doesn’t have his moustache” and ” Wait. Rahul Roy sings Jaane Jigar Jaane Man and just finds Anu Agarwal in the city of Mumbai by doing that ” and “Gimme a break. Sunny Deol can decimate a full Pakistani armored division with his bare hands and screams. What will these people think of next”.

The reason for that simple. Hindi movies are, by nature, downmarket and silly. English movies made by people like Boyle, even when they adopt all the conventions of the masala film, are not. Why? Because they have been validated by the “experts” as “life-affirming”, “glorious”, “celebration of the power of dreams”. So “Slumdog Millionaire” with its horribly cliched and predictable love story is a “monumental tribute to the power of love”. While Kuch Kuch Hota Hain with its equally cliched and predictable love story is “oooh sooooo bakwaas”.

Even with all the stereotypes and all the plot contrivances, I would have still enjoyed “Slumdog Millionaire” if it had managed to, at any time, transcend its “masala” origins to become something greater, as Oscar winners ought to. As the “Dark Knight” transcended its comic book origins to become a fascinating study of true evil. As “City of God” goes beyond the depiction of poverty in Brazilian slums (which is never its primary morbid fascination) to become an epic about the cycle of extreme violence.

In this respect, Slumdog is never greater than the sum of its parts. The production quality is top notch but then again even Ramgopal Verma’s turkeys are technically very accomplished. There is not much scope for acting. However Anil Kapoor, who is slowly coming close to legally becoming a werewolf with his ear ornament makes his mark everytime he unleashes his fake American accent, though you keep expecting him to say “jhakaaassss”.

If there is anything unique about Slumdog is its use of the millionaire game show device to further its plot (even though the links between the plot and the questions are tenuous and sometimes extremely artificial), which I believe is one of the primary reason why people get caught up in the movie. The same reason they get caught up in reality shows like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and get up and cheer when a total stranger gets a million bucks. However once one goes beyond that device, there really is nothing exceptionally unique to Slumdog, nothing that warrants all the hype and hoopla.

A big disappointment.

Ghajini- Please Forget It in 15 mins….

Ghajini Cover

*Spoiler Alert

The only thing I’ll sincerely advice would be to please click your pic, and write the words ” Myself ” on it, before you go for Aamir Khan’s Ghajini, so that when you come out of the movie, you can refer to it in order to regain your senses. 😛

If you’re taking your brains to the movie hall, please make it forget a certain movie called Memento; and forgetting things won’t be a difficult task; otherwise you might end up with the migraine, to top up the 180+ min runtime.

There’s a funny movie playing, alongside an amnesic thriller, a revenge flick, a women’s rights’ fight, the ever-unbelievable Bollywood love story, along with the best B-flick bad guys Rajanikanth would’ve been proud of bashing up.

Aamir does well with his Sanjay Singhania, atleast when he’s amnesic; though the flashbacks with Asin keep producing incredible story-lines, the most unbelievable being the fact that not a single person recognizes the face of the owner of supposedly the biggest Cellphone company in the country.

Asin makes an impressive debut, acts well, does well with her dialogs, but the dialog-writer(s) were at their woeful best, its almost pointless to have a go at them, coz they were a shambles.

And, finally Mr. Ghajini Dharmatama; how often do we have movies named after the villian-prima. Pradeep Rawat and his bad-gang comes straight out of the B-cult classics (Gunda anyone), and would make the best negative leads for Mithun da. Although, being a part of an immensely immature screenplay, Rawat does make his Mr.Ghajini fearsome to an extent, with a well-pronounced finishing move.

I believe the director forgot why he signed up Jiah Khan.

6/10 for Ghajini

Watch it if you like the unabashed Bollywood. The best part during the movie was probably the 2 min extended trailer of Chandini Chowk to China, hope you have similarly great luck.

Genre Talk-1

I’ve discussed a lot about movies here, taking individual movies under the scanner, n i believe it would be nice if I could talk a bit about genres, some movies/genres that I’ve tried n liked in the various genres, n those which I won’t ever recommend. Guess it’d be an alphabetical list, I begin with A today:

Action: I don’t watch many action movies, never a great fan of violence, and out n out stunts bore me. Action, hence, generally comes across as a supporting category for me. Disaster flicks, Westerns, Sci-fi, Superheroes would generally be the main themes. The thing I believe with action movies is that, most of them, in their sole purpose of fight situations, often tend to wander away from a definitive storyline. The one movie which wins me over on this theme purely would definitely have to be Brad Pitt and Ed Norton starrer Fight Club.

Action Recommends: Fight Club (Action + Sci-fi), Sholay (Western + Action + Indian), The Bourne Series (Action + Sci-fi + Adventure)

I just can’t go through: Kill Bill’s, Eastern Martial Arts flicks.

Adventure: Its interesting defining an Adventure genre different from the more likely parent categories of Action, Sci-fi, Fantasy, etc. An adventure movie maybe classified as one which involves the central character(s) involved in an unprecedented situation (an adventure), generally undertaken to serve a cause, and involving action as an undertone. I could classify a very wide range of movies to fall into this category, from the Harry Potter’s to LOTR’s to Forrest Gump to Indiana Jones to even Wall-E. Adventure is an appetizer upon which most movie buffs devour, n I’m no different.

Adventure Recommends: LOTR series (Fantasy + Adventure + Action), The Prestige (Adventure + Fantasy + Sci-fi), TV series Lost (Adventure + Sci-fi)

I just can’t go through: Not found one yet (can’t remember any right now)

Animation: Animation as a taste appeals only with a few of its examples, although kids love any anime they get. Pixar animation deserves a special mention for its excellent work in bringing out some of the best modern-day animation movies. Old names like Walt Disney, Hannah Barbara also keep contributing heavily into the anime genre. Anime as a genre has also seen contrasting main themes over the years, and modern day anime, especially a lot of the Japanese work covers almost all things comprehendible.

Anime Recommends: Wall-E, Ratatouille, Death Note, South Park, Crayon Shin Chan.

I just can’t go through: Most of the other kids based anime programming, n almost all other Japanese anime shows.

Of Wall-E, Snatch and the awaiting Slumdog

Another month went between my previous post and the one that progresses… a few things of importance before the reviews begin:

Barack Obama got chosen as the 44th President of the US of A.

Mumbai had more to worry than the menacing ‘Raj’. Terrorists attacked the city on 26th of Nov. (the same day as my   parents married). The attack claimed nearly 200 lives and injured many more. It seems this time the world is determined to come together and crackdown Pakistan originating terror organizations.

Chelsea haven’t been having the best of times. Defeats at Roma, and to Arsenal and Burnley at home, mean that the blues find themselves 2nd in the premiership, knocked out of the Carling Cup, and needing to desperately win against CFR Cluj in a few hours from now, in order to ensure a place in the Champions League knockout stages.

Wall-E

walle

IMDB rank 34 ( as on 9 Dec,2008 )

That Pixar  is the best when it comes to modern-day animation technology, is not questioned by many , but in Andrew Stanton’s Wall-E, Pixar have probably found their masterpiece ( Yes, after considering Ratatouille and Finding Nemo ).

The story is set in a distant, but not so unrealistic future, where mankind has abandoned earth because it has become covered with trash, WALL-E, a garbage collecting robot has been left to clean up the mess, alone, except for a sprightly pet cockroach. One day, Eve, a sleek (and dangerous) robot, is sent to earth to find proof that life is once again sustainable. WALL-E falls in love with Eve and the rest of the story revolves around sci-fi spaceships, robot chase sequences and umpteen hilarious situations.

What clicks the most for WALL-E is its complete story package, exploring robot emotions, human ignorance and the ultimate fate that technology may bring upon us. Pixar’s superior animation techniques leave you amazed after every scene, and Stanton’s ever-fresh ideas add to the brilliance of the show.

Wall-E is a must watch for all the animation buffs out there ( though I ain’t  1 really), and is currently the highest rated animation movie on the IMDB at 34.

10/10 for animation, direction, voice-overs, storyline and Pixar.

Snatch

snatch

IMDB rank 159 ( as on 9 Dec,2008 )

Snatch is a movie, I can never get enough of. I love British movies, I love dark comedy, and I love the English accent. Snatch is all of that added to a brilliant cast, excellent direction, and a story that leaves you awe-struck. Its also the only real thing Guy Ritchie ever made. Here’s a nice plot summary I borrowed from IMDB:

Turkish ( Jason Statham ) and his close friend/accomplice Tommy ( Stephen Graham ) get pulled into the world of match fixing in illegal boxing by the notorious Brick Top ( Alan Ford ). Things get complicated when the boxer they had lined up gets the shit kicked out of him by a Mickey( Brad Pitt ), a ‘pikey’ ( slang for an Irish Gypsy)- who comes into the equation after Turkish, an unlicensed boxing promoter wants to buy a caravan off the Irish Gypsies. They then try to convince Mickey not only to fight for them, but to lose for them too. Whilst all this is going on, a huge diamond heist takes place, and a fistful of motley characters enter the story, including ‘Cousin Avi’, ‘Boris The Blade’, ‘Franky Four Fingers'( Benecio del Toro ) and ‘Bullet Tooth Tony'( Vinnie Jones ). Things go from bad to worse as it all becomes about the money, the guns, and a damned dog!

Add to the above, some of that eccentric British accent, a buch of witless characters sporting guns, and ovcousre -> ze blood. Please watch Snatch and if it clicks with you, you’ll watch it again n again, just for the sake of it. The background score ain’t bad either.

9/10 for acting, cast, setting, and editing.

10/10 for the storyline.

Watch out for Jason Statham ( in his career best-performance) and Brad Pitt’s a ‘pikey’.

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

IMDB rank 222 ( as on 9 Dec,2008 )

I haven’t seen the Slumdog Millionaire, but from what i hear this promises to be one hell of an India based movie. This genre has been attracting notable interest in the recent past with decent movies like The Darjeeling Ltd. becoming audience favorites. The thing with Darjeeling Ltd. was that none of it was real, neither was the story believable, nor was the India in it. But the west loves its ‘Indian’ image and loved the movie, which frankly, becomes a bit tiresome for an Indian to go through. But Slumdog is different; its set in the real India, with a realistic situation, and is already making heavy Oscar vibes, with lead actor Dev Patel becoming a fan-favorite. Watch out for this movie in the coming days, that is, if you haven’t marveled it already. I sure am looking forward to it.

(*Images courtesy IMDB)