From the wine connoisseur – Seagram’s Nine Hills

I was never a wine guy. Domestic whiskey and the frequent flirting with an assortment of beer from all over the world has been my weekend drink. There was this one time I brought wine home, and even though I don’t have very clear memory of how that went, it sure wasn’t good enough to take me back to it. But that has all changed off late – especially, I must mention, due to the excellent range of  in-flight wines served by Air France during my recent trip to the US. I will confess I’m now hopelessly in love with wine, and especially with the red variety. This love blossomed every Monday through Thursday, during the evening complements, throughout my month-long stay at Marriott’s Residence Inn in Atlanta and the final weekend I spent at my uncle’s beautiful house in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, and as I now realize, very foolishly, I never kept track of the I wine was having; the names to go along with those elegant bouquets and those absorbed-on-the-tongue flavours have been lost into nothingness. There still exists a slim chance that I may have saved the Menu offered by the airline, but I’ll never be able to give name to the intoxication I enjoyed during my hotel stay. Therefore, in order to make up for my inexcusable sins, I decided to make a detailed account of every wine I savour henceforth. I begin tonight with an Indian red variety I decided to pick this weekend – Seagram’s  Nine Hills.

Harvested and fermented in the wine capital of India – Nashik; Nine Hills, a Cabernet Sauvignon has a rich terracotta colour. The bouquet, albeit nothing like those of the varieties I savoured during my trip, is still one that will invite you to take a healthy first gulp. Once served, the Nine Hills takes a deep texture at the bottom with a hint of thin purple on view at the brim – possibly the expected lack of quality showing up – nevertheless it is one that does not disappoint the slightest. Time a for a little shake and the wine swirls and twirls delightfully for the connoisseur,  softening  only very slightly. Here we go then – the first gulp, and umm.. I must say the Nine Hills is definitely not bad wine, on the contrary it has a nice palate with a few inexplicably, yet enchanting, flavours throwing little hints all over your tongue. The grapes that went into this wine were definitely of the highest quality and there has been an obvious effort to achieve perfection in the blend of flavours.  Next comes the aftertaste, and here’s where it leaves a little to be desired – its basically more of a wash-down variety – in ways compatible with the Indian wash-down drinking style. But there is a little bit of lingering .. was that a bit of vanilla there ?

Everything said, Seagram’s Nine Hills is premium domestic wine, keeping Nashik’s reputation very healthy. For INR 565 or $10.49 ( in Maharashtra ), it is real value for money and would easily place in the mid-shelf of any common western wine store. Try it for its rich taste and texture, and obviously for the sweet-mild intoxication that comes along. The bouquet and the after-taste is where it could probably have been better, but hey ! what do I know, I’m only just getting started !

I’d give it a nice 3.5/5 on my wine chart. The Nine Hills is a good glass.

Enjoy Responsibly.

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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

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.

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.

Movie Review: Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Naa

viewed on : 04-07-2008 (release date)

Amateurish! is the first word that comes to my mind when i think of
Jaane Tu, the latest product out of the Aamir Khan production
house, and i surprise myself.

I went to the movie on its release day, expecting some more of that intelligent cinema that Aamir, one of my few last remaining bollywood hopes, has mastered so wonderfully, but found the movie a package full of age-old cliches mixed with cameo gigs revolving around an umpteenth remake of the best friends turned lovers theme.

So, Imran Khan plays Jai Rathore, a harmless guy next door who has a best friend in cat-fighting Aditi( Genelia ), who think they’re great friends, but not made for eachother( despite everyone else believing that ).
Hence, they undertake the cliched path of searching partners for eachother, and end up realizing that they’re infact the only 1s for eachother(as every1 else had known all the time ). Although the side gigs are not all that bad, wid nice parts by Ratna Pathak Shah, Naseeruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Sohail Khan and Arbaaz Khan, the movie fails to keep u interested, especially through the second half. The dialog delivery through most of the film is very mediocre( esp. Genelia ), and the acting is on occasions over-done, just to emphasize on the cheerful goings-on. The American sitcom style gang of friends approach also fails to provide anything refreshing. AR Rehman’s catchy music is probably the only good part.

Why Aamir, known to be so selective with what he works on, decided to go ahead wid this movie is unknown, and i’m not saying dat it’s gonna repel every1 lyk it repels me( esp. the lovers of masala time pass hindi flicks ), but it just seems to let down on the series of great works coming from Aamir’s production house( read Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai, RDB, TZP ). I won’t really recommend ppl to spend 160 bucks lyk i did, but rather make it a 1 time dvd watch, just for the sake of Imran Khan’s debut, who plays his part well enough.

Rating: 6/10 + bad job 4 editing,n dialogues.
Watch out 4: Prateik Babbar ( interesting debut )

Review:Super Sunday(24/03/2008) was superb!

I was supposed to fly back to Ranchi early morning.The Malaysian Grand Prix.The big 4 of the premiership clashed in the evening.There are a few moments i’d love to share here:

->At around 13.00 IST,my flight was closing in on its destination(Ranchi).We had been flying in bright sunshine,above a thick layer of cloud ever since we left Delhi.I knew, once near Ranchi, the plane would need to descend and pierce the clouds.The anticipation of the moment was too great for me to fall asleep,n God ,it was a really mesmerizing experience,i literally saw the airplane pierce the clouds,and the mist form outside my window,if only i’d been allowed to photograph it,but no electronic devices allowed inside…..:(

->The Malaysian Grand Prix was always gonna be difficult for Mclaren after they were penalized in qualifying,couldn’t catch the action(i ws travelling), but Kimi Raikkonen(Ferrari) won. Fisichella came 12th in what can be called an improved performance by Force India, though my reservations on Sutil still hold after another dismal performance.

-> Finally, the big one

Match 1: Man Utd. vs Liverpool

The game showed the class Man Utd have especially in defense, considering the fact that Torres wasn’t even a shadow of his usual self,constantly under pressure from Ferdinand. Surely Mascherano’s sending off was a pivotal point, although Utd. were firmly in control, both before and after the controversial decision. I would probably go with the red card,but then i’ve generally made no fuss about my dislike for Liverpool.The 3 points mean that Utd. are now firm favourites to win the league, and probably deserve to,considering the quality of attacking football they’ve displayed all season.

Result:Man Utd 3-0 Liverpool

Match 2: Chelsea vs Arsenal

A scorcher of a football game at the Bridge,considering especially the importance the game held for the 2 London rivals.The result was absolutely fantastic (for me and other Chelsea supporters out there), but Arsenal played better until they scored the opening goal in the 59th minute. Chelsea’s love-hate manager Avram Grant knew he was in for battering if he lost this one,even more so because it would bring an end to the legacy laid down by Mourinho, wherein they haven’t lost a home league game in 4 years and 1 month. He brought in Anelka and Belleti in the 70th min. 3 minutes later,a long ball from the latter eventually resulted in the Chelsea equalizer courtesy the ever so reliable Drogba. And Drogba scored the Chelsea winner in the 82nd minute from an Anelka flick-on.The final whistle meant Arsenal have collected only 4 out of the 15 points possible in the last 5 games.But Chelsea have now leapfrogged them to second place in the league……way to go blues.

Result:Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

(blue is the colour)

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