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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

# 11 - Movie Review - Ahalya

Cast: Soumitra Chatterjee, Radhika Apte, Tota Roychowdhury
Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh

A policeman visits an aged acclaimed artist's home to investigate a matter. But something doesn't exactly seem right.


Highly suggested that you watch the movie first, go ahead, just 14 minutes.

Done? Okay let's get to it.

First things first, there's enough brouhaha about the name of this movie, this is a modern retelling of the mythological tale of Ahalya/feminist twist to the classic tale etc. etc.

Bull****, yes it is. The names of the characters suggest that! But that doesn't give an additional dimension to the movie, nor is it of any particular consequence. Let's get over the dissection of the title and the possible connotations and implications! 

I doubt the makers themselves ever in their wildest dreams imagined that the public at large would tear up their hair discussing the movie title. Not that they would complain either. Do you, dear reader, ever wonder why Salman Khan's character in Dabangg was called Chulbul Pandey? Do you wake up in the middle of the night wondering the etymology behind Chulbul ? You don't ? Enough said.

Short films can be a very interesting and exciting medium, so far none of the big screen releases of compilations have really worked (Darna Mana Hai, Darna Zaroori Hai, Bombay Talkies etc.) but the success of Ahalya shows that maybe there's hope in the future (more than 7 lakh views on youtube in 2 days).

Back to the movie. 

More than just inspired by a story of Satyajit Ray (Professor Shonku o aschorjo Putul), and allegedly a spanish movie as well, the least the director could have done was acknowledge the source material. Barring that, Mr. Sujoy Ghosh doesn't give the viewer any reason to express grumble.

The script is tight, it had to be, every second of this movie is necessary. The viewer steps in to the shoes of the cop who has come to visit the veteran artist at his home for an investigation of a missing person, (played competently by Tota Roychowdhury) and what he expects to be a routine affair, turns out to be anything but that.

Inspired casting in the form of Soumitra Chatterjee (brilliant as usual) and Radhika Apte (she is suddenly everywhere these days, and for good reason, getting better and prettier with each movie) definitely lifts the movie.

The director leaves enough clues for the viewer to arrive at the possible ending, but that doesn't take anything away from the movie. He teases the viewer much like Ahalya, the titular character teases the cop. The viewer remains confused whether Ahalya is a seductress or a faithful wife till the very end. Likewise for Gautam Sadhu (Soumitra), is he really as harmless as he appears to be?

It's good to see a non bengali actor playing a bengali and getting most pronunciations right, Radhika Apte makes up for the horrible "Issh"es and "Sotti"s of Aishwarya Rai (Devdas, 2002). 

Finally, Ahalya is a good movie that should help its genre of films in India, and finally here's a director who's decided to get better with time after showing initial promise, instead of succumbing to Bollywood-dom  (Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Imtiaz Ali, please take note).

But seriously, Satyajit Ray deserved a mention in the credits.  

Sunday, 19 July 2015

# 10 - That time of the week

Forget the Monday morning blues, it's the Sunday evening sadness that gets to me.

It's a lot like the sun setting by the beach, the view is spectacular, but there's a melancholy to it, a part of you is sad, and you don't know the reason.

I don't do much on Sundays, and that's an overstatement, I do nothing actually, and quite enjoy doing nothing at all, but as evening approaches, a vacuum seems to engulf me.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, it probably could be because of the realisation of the futility of it all, but I suspect that that's not the case. It could be anything, or nothing.

It's the complete opposite of a Friday evening, when little can keep you down, it's not as if you have plans for the weekend or something to look forward to, it's probably got to do with the entire potential of it all. There's 48 hours which YOU have, spend it in whatsoever fashion you like.

There's a spring in your step and a song on your lips (yes, that cliched), as opposed to the mindless zombie facade you sport two days later.

The irony is, irrespective of what you do during your weekend, you end up feeling the same way as the dreaded hour approaches, I can't recall a happy Sunday.

Nothing, absolutely nothing I do can shake off the feeling, it's as if my brain is programmed to be unhappy.

Cometh the hour, cometh the sadness.

Pardon me for using 'you' throughout the post, most people I know seem to hate the Mondays more, but I am hoping that probably a few readers (yes, there are a few, more on that in the next para) would probably agree with me on this.

On a positive note, I am starting to see the number of visitors on the blog increase, whether it's by accident ('Damn, this isn't the site I was looking for') or by choice ('let's see what the #$@%@%# has written this time'), I don't know, but if there's a particular topic that excites you, or if you like any of the posts over here, do let me know.

Until the next post, goodbye.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

# 9 - Growing up, getting old, and getting real

"The trouble with growing up is, by the time we get rid of the pimple problems, there are wrinkles to take care of" 

- Anonymous 

"We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very very pissed off." 

- Fight Club

During my young(er) years, I looked forward to growing up, becoming an adult.

I remember throwing, literally throwing my geography book away after my 10th boards geography paper was over, "I never have to study geography in my life again", I thought with relief, but nevertheless picked the book up a while later and kept it away ('what if I don't pass this time around?').

‎Alas, with the advent of calculus, my once favourite subject went the geography way. I waited for school to get over.

Then came college, and things hit rock bottom, or so I thought...‎not only did I have no inkling of what was going on, I had no clue what the future held in store. 

I wanted to hold on tightly to the present, forget growing up, take me back to the 90s, if that's not possible at least pause the time dear god!

A few years later came the sad realization that I was never going to be able to afford a Ferrari.

‎As you grow up and get older the dreams you have start to crumble, one at a time...the "outrageous" hopes and goals we had turn more realistic, and are battered down to something that's probably not even worth achieving.

We look back at the days gone by and wish that we could have them  back, but of course, that's not possible.

I miss the one month long summer vacations, I miss the ‎good old DD1 and DD Metro and He Man cartoons, I miss those old bulky landlines which you actually had to dial, I miss the innocence of friendships that I had in primary school, I miss waiting for the postman to deliver letters, knowing fully well that those letters had no relevance to me.

The other day I got a forward, it simply said "Imagine, 1990 is right now as far away as 2040". It seemed impossible till I actually did the math.

‎I used to be a bit tech savvy as a kid, but when I see 6 year olds surfing the net and doing things which I didn't know could be done, I feel a bit like the T-800 in the Terminator Genisys movie, "Obsolete".

And then I think, this is just the beginning, if I feel outdated now, how am I going to feel 20 years later? How am I going to last?

And then instead of going back in time, I wish I could just go forward to my retirement age, live peacefully in isolation,

‎From "little one" to "bhai" to "bhaiya" to "uncle", time does fly by quick.

Like this blog, this post too, doesn't have much of a point, but just a stark reminder, that we are just a speck of dust in this universe, our lives are of little or no consequence in the larger scheme of things, in all likelihood, most of us would not be putting a dent on the universe, in our lifetime, or later, yet we go on, hoping to make a mark, willfully oblivious of our un-importance. 

This post started off with two somewhat negative quotes, here's one more.

"Even if you are one in a million, on a planet of nearly 6.8 billion, that means there are 7000 people just like you."

So much for being an unique snowflake. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

# 8 - Blast from the Past - Movie Review - Ra.One

With creative juices running low, I once again rely upon what I had written years earlier, in order to keep this blog running...

I had watched Ra.One when it had come out in late October, 2011, and had for some inexplicable reason written a review of it too. Yes, I am fascinated with bad movies.

**SPOILER ALERT** In case you haven't watched this movie, DON'T. This review may make it seem better than it is.  

'Watch this movie because I am showcasing a brand new pose'

Back in the 70s, in bollywood, long before six packs, chiseled stars, vfx, sync sound and bikini babes flaunting ample cleavage had become common, there existed the concept of plots, around which movies were made. There were bad plots then, no doubt, but nevertheless, their presence was felt.

Since then however, the standards have become poorer and poorer, until now, that is.

Ra.One, the 150 crore, revolutionary (as claimed by the makers) film has no plot/story whatsoever.

The 156 minute journey to insanity starts off with an extended fantasy sequence, that has little or no business being in the movie, but reminds the viewer of 4 well-known facts, viz. (1) srk has abs (2) priyanka chopra is a well endowed women (3) sanjay dutt has bad teeth; and most importantly (4) bollywood isn't mature enough to handle special effects.

The film has no story whatsoever, is G.One a super hero? A robot? Or a BODYGUARD?

It seems as if there was no bound script, and the directors (apparently Karan johar, tarun mansukhani and SRK himself had directed portions of the film) were improvising all along.

There's a kid who looks a lot like shirish kunder, calls himself LUCIFER, and shares a strange relationship with his mother (they have condom jokes in a kids film, and a birthday party where exotic dancers outnumber the guests).

There's a video game where there are only 3 levels (seriously!?) And one has to be an olympic level gymnast/martial artist in order to play.

There's a superhero/robot whose motive and powers are unknown.

The list goes on and on.

The quality of the vfx is nothing to write home about, its good, but not revol-wow-tionary...

But what's more notable is the fact how the vfx element seems forced...the fantasy sequence was entirely unnecessary and did not contribute to the storyline, there are scenes where g1 (SRK, for the uninitiated) and ra1 (arjun rampal, if you really give a sh*t) are throwing cars at each other without any goddamn reason, and so on.

Ra.One seems like a movie where SRK thinks the movie's USPs are his presence, akon, the graphics, and its terminator-esque plot, but while salman khan can pull movies off by doing precious little, srk can't.

Kareena Kapoor looks good and she plays the stereotyped kareena kapoor character she plays in all her movies.

Arjun rampal looks thin and does precious little.

The kid in question, armaan verma, is irritating and should seriously get a hair cut else he risks being cast as a girl in the future.

Srk reprises his My Name Is Khan role, with little variation, (he punches, kicks and flies this time, and has blue eyes) and his performance doesn't merit a comment. But I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up with the filmfare award.

The viewers deserve better and srk too. I hope Ra.One doesn't get a sequel.

P.S: It's 2015 now. No sequels have been announced to Ra. One (good). Haven't caught the irritating child actor in any other movie since then (better), but Anubhav Sinha, the director of this masterpiece says he has a few movies in the pipeline (damn). 

Image sourced from here. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

# 7 - Should have taken the other route

22nd December, 2012 was destined to be the day that scarred Meenakshi for the rest of her life.

It started out like any other Saturday, waking up late, relishing the fact that there was no college, breakfast in bed and so on.

In fact it had been perfect till the evening.

Her friend Kanika called her up sometime around 7 and asked if she was interested in watching the latest Ranbir Kapoor movie that everyone was gushing about.

- Yaa, ofcourse! What time is the show? Who else is coming? Please let this be a girls’ night out only! 

- Sure babes, me, you, Rupali and Shikha. Sayak wanted to come along but am sure he will understand. Show’s at 9pm and you can all stay over at my place for the night. It’s been ages since we had a pajama party. I will pick you up at around 8.30pm.

Meenakshi was super excited as she put the phone down. She convinced her parents about the night out and got ready as quickly as she could, which just happened to be quick enough, because just as she stepped away from the mirror she heard the unmistakable honking sound of Kanika’s Nano outside. 

Just one more look at the mirror and she took off, hugging her dad and mom. 

Her dad stopped her just as she was about to leave.
- Listen Meenu, you be careful alright? You know how times are. Delhi isn’t getting any safer. Just call us for a minute after your movie is finished and when you reach Kanika’s place.

“Sure dad!” Meenakshi replied without thought. 

Midway through the movie, Kanika got a call her from mother, her brother had been in a bike accident, it was serious. 

Obviously all of them had to leave, Kanika was in tears, she had to leave and go straight to the hospital, to make matters worse, it was her car they had come in. 

She however offered to drop off the rest of the girls. 
It was Meenakshi who was the last one to be dropped, Kanika asked her if it was okay if she stopped the car a bit far from Meenakshi’s place and Meenakshi could walk home, else Kanika would have to take a long detour, usually Meenakshi would have refused, but seeing Kanika’s state, she just nodded silently. “Poor girl, what must she be going through. She had better reach the hospital soon” Meenakshi thought to herself. 

It was around 11 ‘o’ clock but the streets were empty, Meenakshi wondered which route to take home. One was longer, but it was through the main road, and there were street lights, the other was much shorter but slightly shadier. 

Pausing for a minute or two, she wondered if she should give her dad a call, but decided against it. She was in college now. She decided to take the shorter, darker route, figuring she would just reach earlier. 

It didn’t take long for Meenakshi to realize that she should have taken the other route, it was dark and deathly quiet, difficult to see even a few feet away, all she could make out in the darkness was the darker shapes of the building in the night.

She decided to count to 400, she estimated that’s how long it would take to reach home. 
Halfway through, she felt she could make out the shape of a person some distance away. She wasn’t sure.

Her heart froze when she realized that it was indeed a person, a person who was approaching her, at a brisk pace, the silence of the night now broken by her, and the stranger’s footsteps. 
She paused, wondering if the person would just cross, he was just about 10 meters  away now, and he slowed down. Observing her, he turned to her just slightly, and started taking slow, but decisive steps towards her, until she could feel his breath. 

He is going to rape me, Meenakshi realized, a bit too late, she wondered if she should scream, tried, but her parched throat refused to let out any sound . She tried to protect herself, to push him away, but he just pounced on her and shoved her to the ground. 

Meenakshi managed to put up a fight, she threw her purse at him and kicked him in the groin, something he hadn’t seen coming. He was hurt enough to let out a groan, and muttered a cuss word, and then “gayee tu ab”. 

The world paused for a fraction of a second for Meenakshi, she later wondered if it was due to relief or terror. 

She stood up shakily, but there was a change in her body language that the man could detect. 

She asked “Dad, is that you?”

# 6 - The Blogger Returns II

Yes, I am back, had promises to keep, remember?

Back with "fresh", "original" content too...

The next post is going to be a story, which in spite of my utmost attempts to stay original is probably inspired, but I honestly can't recall the source material....

Some B grade bollywood movie? unlikely....

Some wikipedia page? Possible...

Some whatsapp forward which claimed that if I didn't post it in my blog within 365 days I would shrivel up and die? Now we're going somewhere...

What's more, pissed off with the limited views, I am going pro, i.e. I am posting the link to my blog on Facebook.....if you are reading this, you better keep checking this page once a month (and click on ads too, will ya?), else you will be stalked, and I will message you personally until you visit the blog, or quit Facebook, or of course you could unfriend me.

You have been warned.