Rocking Horse

I am not sure if you see horses like these. Ok. Rocking horses like these. Where as toddlers, we swung back and forth. For all the energy that the kid expended, the horse didnt move from one place to another.

The child gets to ride a horse. So he is happy. The mother is happy for he stays in one place. Its win-win all the way ! (Until of course, he comes face to face with a real horse, and starts asking questions like ‘why does it not stay in one place” to his mother. But that’s another story).

Children of the modern times, get their first lessons in mobility on play items like this. My nephew’s first vehicle, just as he is learning to pronounce my name !

The horse (& such else) that rock, have been bypassed ! He zips and zooms from room to room in this three wheeler !

At an age, where i perhaps was learning to turn around to lie on my tummy (Ok, please go with the flow of this post and discount, for the present, that i am a ‘little’ slow) he zips. Felling whatever objects that come in the way. Be it the dinner plate, the TV remote or the coffee machine !

And in his victories, his parents claim to be monetarily poorer. ( I would contest that claim, and win hands down. But that’s another post)

Call it old fashioned attachment to things of the past, my heart lies with the rocking horse. And its variants : The swan. And the elephant. And such else.

Somehow, they brought about a connect to nature. And fueled imagination. So i think. You can imagine a whole lot of things while on a rocking horse ! I guess. Put me on a rocking horse today, and i can conjure up images of Porus and Alexander. Me fighting them, that is !

But, on another note, i don’t think he is missing much. At an age when i looked into the radio to wonder who was within such a small box, he watches Discovery channel and Sun TV with such precision, that he perhaps has a mental construct of not only horses, but also every conceivable life form.

(And of course, the Tamil movies will perhaps let him know that Tata Sumos are designed to fly in the air. Guns are like candy. That every man and woman has a soothing voice and a live orchestra inside them. And that, a hundred dance girls in funny costume ready to dance, come preordained with life. Thats again a separate post).

In a few years, he would perhaps access the internet. And learn. All about cars, bikes, buses. And horses too. If he wants.

I am sure he will do that all imaginatively, elegantly and efficiently. At many times the speed of what i can ever do.

I have one consternation though. About what he would think of me, when he reads this post someday. About my language skills. And perhaps my intelligence.

For what kind of a nitwit would one be, to even think of a stationary wooden horse as more fanciful than a colourful cycle that helps to zip inside the house and target the TV.

And worse still, call that horse a ‘rocking’ horse !

Just a Jai Ho !

On Western Express Highway. Mumbai. 26th Jan ’09

Slumdog Millionaire, is a well made movie. And i quite liked it. Its about India. Its about the real us. Our dreams. Our past. Our present. And about possibilities that connections in the mind can bring. There are other movies that have left a far greater impact on me, but of course, this is the one that got nominated for the Oscars. So ! Jai Ho !

On another note, a pendulum was always an object of intrigue. For it swung from one end to another. With such an alarming regularity. And yes, the only intermittent sound was from the alarm ! So have been the last few days for me. As i swung from one end to the other. With only the odd beep from the watch indicating time. Jai Ho !

We watched Slumdog Millionaire. Then a long standing dream went still. Almost coinciding with my birthday ! And then, there was Republic day. I have a thousand images to show. And a thousand more stories to tell. Some other day ! And so, I live to fight another day !

With a prayer on the lip for broader shoulders, and a stronger heart to stand up and engage what life throws at me, the resolve to stand, stands ! And of course, the belief that tomorrow will be much better, courses the veins much more fiercely ! Jai Ho !

My birthday came and went. Friends and the missus conspired to get me a few gifts. A Casio G Shock watch and Ray Ban sunglasses ! A G-Shock watch is supposed to withstand shocks and Ray Ban sunglasses is supposed to shield the eyes from harmful rays of the sun. Such is the marketing !!

But, fresh from Slumdog Millionaire, i am busy making connections. And this seems to be a connection i cant miss ! Jai Ho !

I ran to Gibran for comfort, as i do so very often. And read Joy and Sorrow !

“When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed”

This man has a way with his words. And has some kind of a broad band connection to my heart and soul. I smiled after a long while and went about other things. Like seeing a Republic day celebration ! Jai Ho !

Work related travel and my own mind, will keep me away for a few days. But of this, be assured.. I will be right back.

Until then…

Jai Ho !

Kidnap. Movie Review

When the Chocolate Boy is playing kidnapper, well, that is something to see. That was the line that was used to lure me to the movie hall.

Kidnap‘ attempts a whole lot. It does have some interesting twists and turns in the plot. The only problem that i have here, that regulars here are now aware of, is the fact that Hindi movies try too much. Too hard. Stretching the story beyond what is necessary. Even extending it to the point where it tears apart and hurts !

Kidnap is no exception. It has a racy start. [And God ( & only he ) knows why there has to be ‘bikini beach song’ to open the movie & such other ‘generous’ scenes ! Is the average movie goer so much of a starved character that he (or she) is going to get pulled into the movie because of such sequences. It puts me off & perhaps shows an impoverished mind of those at the helm of making such movies].

Coming back to the movie, the dour faced Imran Khan tries his best to look tough by consistently maintaining a dour face. Sanjay Dutt plays the role of a billionaire worth $ 52.7 ( billions of course) & more importantly, father to Minisha Lamba & divorced husband of Vidya Malvade.

The plot is about Imran Khan extracting his revenge for an affront that resulted in a jail sentence, scars on the body etc etc, at the behest of the billionaire gent many years back. And that revenge extraction is through the kidnapping of the billionaire’s daughter and making some ‘demands’.

The demands include, traveling from somewhere in Mumbai to Panvel in about 40 minutes ( i think) & saying ‘sorry’ to a nun on the train, organising a jail break, breaking into a Mutka don’s home, committing a murder etc. I quite liked the underlying this message : travelling from anywhere to anywhere in Mumbai in 40 mins, is as tough as orchestrating a jail break or such other tasks. That is one heck of a social message, to me !!!

Well, Sanjay Dutt, manages to do all of these. Of course. And the flawless execution & remarkable ease of these executions, makes me wonder why my corporate life seems so tough ! Duh !

Ultimately, it has an alls-well-ends-well ending. And as the film meandered to a close, for a moment, i had sweaty palms and a strange fright that the movie would end with Imran Khan and Minisha Lamba ‘falling in love’ ! Thankfully, that pain didnt ensue !

I think one chase sequence involving Sanjay Dutt and Imran Khan was quite absorbing. Although, Sanjay Dutt’s flab shows all the way through ! Other than that, the basic plot of the movie was rather sturdy. And Imran Khan almost manages to carry the film on his shoulders. Those are what go well for the movie.

On the other hand, Minisha Lamba’s screen prescence, minimal chemistry between Imran & Minisha, Sanjay Dutt and Vidya Malvade, gloriously inept dialogues, inappropriate costume design, remarkable overloading / stretching of the story & such else gets you to twist and turn in your seat !

(Minisha Lamba appears to have packed for the kidnapping. Thats the kind of costumes she wears while remaining a captive. Not that what she wore a lot….but you get the idea dont you…!?)

Bolder editing, tauter dialogues, lesser of grind routines, better casting, and absorbing performances would have provided with a much more wholesome experience. I guess thats like all parts of movie making ! Almost !

And when Imran Khan, says, ‘hell is right here’ you may want to think that he is talking about the audience and the movie hall. To be fair, the movie isn’t completely bad. It held promise for a brief while. The angst that resides in me is this : that promise, however brief it was for, did not sustain!

Wish it had.

Welcome To Sajjanpur.

Shyam Benegal was the pull factor ! That name was enough for us to troop into watch ‘Welcome to Sajjanpur‘ ! We weren’t completely disappointed !

Its quite a different movie, than the ones that we have seen from the Benegal stable. Its a very simple, easy and intense tale, told with a fluid pen and structured thought! As usual, the characters, the visuals, smart lines, and neat casting makes the village and the story come alive.

This is a tale about an aspiring novelist beginning his career in his small village, as a letter-writer ! His writing flair comes in handy as a viable option for enabling a largely ‘illiterate’ village to reach out to the world ! And as he becomes the enabler, the world speaks through him, so to speak !

Deeper themes emerge in the movie. In all its ‘humour’ and ‘light-hearted’ tale, Shyam Benegal does manage to bring to the fore, some issues ! Widow-Remarriage, Power and the marginalised sections of society, village politics and their polarisation etc !

As light and flowing it can get, the movie and its themes are quite intense ! At least, it was to me. Some dialogues were really ‘cool’ and so was the music ! This definitely is not in the ‘best of Benegal‘ category, with certain portions floundering quite a bit ! But it all falls in place as it meanders along !

With rustic hindi from the heartland and a realistic portrayal, it did seem to have already attracted a different audience at the multiplexes !

Easy tale. Realistic portrayal. By and large, decent acting. And Benegal as the director. That would help overlook other factors that weigh against the movie !

Must admit, we did get a few good laughs !

A Wednesday !

A Wednesday is a different movie. After a full week of release, we walked into a movie hall with almost each seat taken : This with no glamour girl, no song sequences and more importantly two old men ( ok not that old, but still old)in the lead roles ! You either had to give it to word of mouth that came out of some interesting sequences and acting !

The movie is indeed about terror. Technology. Mobile phones. Etc. But the screenplay is gripping and has a few surprises in store. The movie opens out to a silent title reel. With the odd flicker of dots within the names featured. And proceeds to weave an interesting interplay of simultaneous events. These separate events steadily get woven into one lovely piece of a movie !!

Naseerudin Shah plays a character who is the bomber with technical wizardy. His calls cant be traced. Nor his threats ignored, for he plants bombs at the police station across the commissioners office !

And then, proceeds to make his demands for certain terrorists to be freed. The story unfolds from thereon. All the while having packed home made sandwiches and coffee from a flask! And after buying groceries for home !

I hate to go any further on the storyline, even as i am tempted to do so. Just so that nothing is given away when you & you appreciate the movie in full.

The movie resonates at some level ! Personally, i have a problem with killings. Of any sort. Methodical. Vigilante. Terrorist. Encounter. Etc. To me, a killing is a killing. That belief was tested for a few moments. But those moments were intense moments !

For what was said, held rationale and cold logic. It took me a while to sort things out and re-anchor my feelings around taking of a life !

Its not as though that the movie is a flawless production! But yet, I would brand the movie as very close to ‘must watch’ ! Its different. Neatly executed punctuated with humour, some powerful dialogues and impeccable delivery too.

Anupam Kher plays the Police Commissioner of Mumbai and makes you wish that the avatar who plays the role emerges from the screen and walk into the commissioner’s seat here !

All key characters come alive on screen with superlative performances from the artistes playing them, perhaps with the exception of Jimmy Shergil playing the role of a tough cop.

Naseeruddin Shah oozes presence and character. I wonder why we don’t see more of him on screen. Yet, it is the storyline which keeps you alive with ‘what-happens-next’ curiosity all through. With some subtle and sophisticated humour that appeals to the common man. (From a common man too !!)

We walked out of the movie hall more than satisfied of having caught a good movie ! Second week in a row ( after Tahaan ) !

In half an hour we heard about the bomb blasts in Delhi. My wife wished that the ‘common man’ took a worldly avatar. And seeing the scenes of destruction and chaos, i wished it too. For a brief moment. My belief held over years, was tested.

The movie resonates with the common man who suffer ! For that it deserves a watch.

Tahaan. Movie Review

Tahaan. I voted for this movie because of Santosh Sivan. And got much more than Santosh Sivan and his wizardy with the camera. The cast, storyline, fantastic acting, subtle music all played their part.  More details here.

Tahaan is a story thats set in Kashmir.  It again, has no songs with a thousand human beings providing the backdrop , and no stunt sequences decked with Tata Sumos flying up in the air. No second track ‘comedy’ (sic) !  And all characters in the movie are fully clothed. So.  

The film is about reality, possibilities, choice, love and life itself. 

Well, for all of the above, would you be surprised to know that the story centers around a donkey. Well, a boy and his donkey! I would be.   

An assortment of carefully laid out sequences capture the  journeys of a boy, his love ( for his donkey) and the realities of modern day Kashmir in a tapestry that breezily weaves its way into our hearts & to our minds as well. 

Current day realities of the valley present itself in the form of the military & the accompanying militancy, guns, bullets, deserted homes of Kashmiri Pundits, identity parades, grenades. These are presented befitting the line that meets our eyes before the movie rolls on : all characters in the movie are fictitious & the incidents are non-fictitious

All the same, to me the movie seemed to let out a subtle scream for all conflicts. Or rather, for all people involved in conflicts that are not their own. Kashmir, Iraq, Bosnia Sri Lanka and so on. Where children and their futures can sucked into the vortex with ease that can put the best vacuum cleaners to shame.  

A particular exchange stays fresh. The child asks, ‘who owns the mountains?’ The answer he gets is that we dont own the mountains, but it is the mountains who own us. We pass on and they stay ! ( I want to add, but it is ‘for’ them that we fight.  Sigh )!

The movie endures. Not leaning on populism, propoganda or empty nationalism, the film is a moving depiction of the state of the valley through the eyes of young Tahaan and his realities. The realities of a wide eyed eight your old boy !

Breathtaking visuals.  Interesting portrayals. The simplicity of the story.  Words of wisdom. Factual presentation.  All left us a shaken and stirred. On our way back, we talked about the movie and our own recollections of such other stories of strife. And we remind ourselves that we need to do something. Our bit. 

Long after a movie is over, if the scenes stay with you & you are stirred to action, there cant be a better compliment !  

Do catch a watch. 

Singh is King. Movie Review

For some reason this movie is spelt ‘Singh is Kinng.’ The king with a double ‘n’. For emphasis perhaps.

So we went on Friday evening. Part lured by the catchy music played out ever so many times on music channels & part goaded by friends and fellow bloggers, who said in no uncertain terms that this movie will be an ‘entertainer’. And so, it was. Atleast, it tried hard to.

Singh is Kinng‘ is about a do-gooder ( Akshay Kumar, who else) who wants to do more good. A simpleton who ends up wrecking half the village in the pursuit of ( digitally animated, as the movie claims) chicken et al, in the name of doing good. You get the idea, don’t you.

The village conspires to keep him out with a tall order of bringing back a gent named Lucky Singh, who migrated a long while ago as a simple man and is now a don in Australia.

In effect, this is all about Happy going after lucky. And in a very happy-go-lucky way, the movie takes us to Australia. ( so they claim). And, Oh, in between, a boarding pass mishap leads us to Egypt, Katrina Kaif and some catchy tunes.

The rest of the story is about how circumstances play out in Australia, and how Happy Sing stands in for Lucky Singh, the big don ! As much as the Happy-go-Lucky scenes pan out its about a few songs, dialogue sequences and scenes that try hard to tickle your funny bone. With little ( ok, slightly more than little ) success.

Given all of the above, you can draw up the plot before i spell b-r-e-e-z-e. Munnabhai style good acts in the name of ‘bad’ give unintended ‘good’ side effects & pave the way for reform of dreaded gangsters.

Katrina & Ranvir Shorey are a pair from the past (precedes the movie). Ranvir (of course) is the sophisticated & insensitive coward, who does all the wrong, while Akshay represents the very opposite of those adjectives. So you know. Any more on the story line would be bordering on demeaning your intelligence on logical hindi movie conclusions.

For the record, Om Puri, Javed Jaffrey, Kiron Kher, Neha dhupia, Kamal Chopra, Yashpal Sharma & Sonu Sood are part of the cast.

I was clearly told (by wife and friends) to keep logic, intelligence & such other, that are quite alien to bollywood outside and walk into the hall. With those apart, i was another simpleton watching the movie ! And wasn’t completely disappointed.

Here are the pluses. The film does elicit a few grins. Ok a few laughs too. If you haven’t watched it many times on National Geographic, you can watch the pyramids of Giza. This time with Katrina Kaif as the backdrop ! (ditto with the Gold Coast). Also, you also have to give it to Akshay for having screen presence. Those catchy tunes are catchy.

Now the minuses. Patchy screen play, the irrelevance of some characters, wasted artistes, very funny attempts at fun, stereotyped characters, predictable storyline…OK. I guess the logic part that i had left behind, just returned. So, will stop here.

And just as parting information, Snoop Dogg has a number in the movie. You see him as credits roll and you walk from the hall. But by then, you are scurrying for the exist that you don’t bother ! ( If you enjoy Snoop Dogg & his music that is )

Now that ‘logic’ has returned there is one question thats I cant resist asking. So, will ask.

Why must every movie of every genre ( comedy, melodrama etc etc) end with the hero giving a speech ( a.k.a discourse) on friendship, values, nation etc etc ! Its funny isnt it ?

When they try to make me laugh all through the movie, i try hard to resist crying at the my self-inflicted plight. But in the end, when they try hard to get me moved and perhaps bring a tear to the corner my eye, i laugh !!

Perhaps thats why ! But, the question remains !

Movie Land Lessons

Friday evenings were movie times. For the past few weeks. In the quest of sustaining and solidifying a tradition of sorts, the two movies that were releasing this week stared at us.

a. Mission Istanbul
b. Money hai to honey hai.

After watching movies like Love Story 2050 and Kismet Konnection, reason did not permit a risk in the name of ‘entertainment’. So, here we are, at home. After a long while, spending the evening, looking into the cloud filled night sky as it pelts rain with such ferocity resembling a self respecting movie goer who has been taken for a ride by movie makers !

Movies are stories and good movies are stories well told. Stories that grip & leave an impact. That cause you to reflect. Prepare you for something bigger. Or at the least, lighten your heart and leave your mind pampered. After each of the movies that we saw in the recent times ( except for JTYJN), every shade of the opposite effect took place.

By abstaining from watching a movie this week, we are infact, letting our esteemed movie makers know that we have no trust in them !

Dear Movie makers / Director / Actor…

We also know, you would care two hoots to our opinion. Your industry runs on the steady stream of normal people, who you mistake for ‘dimwits who will pay and lap up any crap’ that you dish out.

Such ‘normal’ people take a while, for evolving to stay out of the zealous crap that you spell as ‘m-o-v-i-e’ ! Until then you would have a field day. Enjoy it while it lasts. We are losing patience !

Just as i write, i see that both movies releasing today, have got a zero rating in a review by a TV channel. Sure baby, money is honey. Time is honey ! Emotion is honey.

Am glad i metaphorically learn’t all of that, without watching ‘money hai to honey hai’!

Hancock. Review

John Hancock was a was a Massachusetts merchant and prominent patriot of the American Revolution. This chap was a signatory to the Declaration of Independence and his large flowing signature meant that John Hancock is an informal synonym for ‘signature’.

But that was another Hancock.

The one that Peter Berg brings out in ‘Hancock’ leaves behind his signature. A trail of destruction. Rudeness. Alchoholism. And oh yes, besides being a super hero and putting up the bad guys behind bars. This portrayal of sides that are usually not seen on screen, makes this Hancock stand out as a different super hero.

The first half is racy. Humorous. Particularly so, with quips reeking super-hero attitude !! Saving a PR consultant’s life proves to be a turning point for the PR consultant, in return puts in place an image make over for Hancock. And the slow transformation of the rude Hancock, who has to be educated to saying ‘Good Job’, into a somebody that people love, is a story that is well told. PR consultants must be smiling !

Somewhere in the second half, the racy start appears false and there are periodic shortcomings in the plot. That pace of the film and some intelligent film making cant , try as they might, make up for it.

Peter Berg seems to have hit a fork in the road. One road sustaining the racy humorous and skimming attention of the audience that is the flavour of the first half. And the other, leading to an emotional twist : 3000 + year love story, emotional twist + amnesia + recollections etc !
For some reason, he chose to go with the second option.

Straight away, the road not taken, seems alluring !

Nevertheless, Will Smith and Charlize Theron bring alive the scereen. Intelligent capture of the destruction trail, and the genuinity of a human problem that rests in a super hero, makes you wish things get better for him ! Jason Bateman as the PR consultant brought alive memories of friends who are neck deep in PR ! So.

The plot is weak ! The action is good ! The humour is racy ! The action is quite different! The emotional twists and 1000 year history is unnecessary. Will Smith stands tall, without having to zoom into the sky to get that accolade ! Perhaps above all, seeing a super hero with failings of many sorts is refreshingly different !

I enjoyed the movie. Most parts of it atleast ! As i hesitatingly type, ‘its worth a watch’ i seem keen to add what marketers and PR consultants add on to their proposals : ‘Conditions Apply’ !

that said, ok, there you go: Worth a watch ***

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Movie Review

Even as i type out this post, there are a few points that i would like the reader to know !

a. I watched this movie on the rebound from Love Story 2050
b. I am not given to watching this many movies ( lest you construe a different picture)

c. I am going to try hard to stay away from detail in this post. For i believe this is a movie to be best experienced in the movie hall !

After a long while, this was a movie that was ‘refreshing’ ! Where is the evidence ? Well, the multiplexes ran housefull all across town for most shows. We found tickets in an old world ‘Chandan Theatre’ in Juhu. That perhaps was a setting that added to the atmosphere.

Simple effective performances. Neat dialogues. Superb music thats stayed. Attention to detail and a certain degree of ‘humorously frivolous exaggeration’. A movie where the audience laughed, clapped and giggled in unison. This was a movie, which by far enjoyable !

The movie has a simple plot. Infact a very weak one. Would you imagine that a story thats belonged to yesteryears : Two good friends, who didnt quite realise they were in love. Now , that has hit many a screen over the years. Many a time !

Over here, What truly matters is the fine ensemble of sub plots, the well woven incidents that keep the audience alive. And on that count, this film scores well. Very well, infact !

Naseerudin Shah as the ‘Portrait-that-speaks’ & Ratna Pathak Shah as the ‘living’ mother of Jai – the protaganist ( Imran Khan ) sparkle. And so do all other characters who have a role in the movie. Any role. The parents of Aditi. The lady who plays Meghna. Meghnas parents. Sushanth. Aditi’s brother. The Rathore brothers. The gang of friends. The inspector. All of them ! Simple yet powerful roles.

Also appealing was the fact that the movie was not trying to be everything to everybody. So, you did not have raunchy dance scenes nor a few Tata Sumos ( or any vehicle of that order ) flying in the air. The normal running around trees coochie cooing is poignant in its abscence. So there you have. A distinct movie. A movie that moved, quite naturally ! A movie that indeed packs a few punches. And oh yes, the few punches that did land, seemed real indeed !

Is this not a tall story as well ? Well, yes. In some form. But it kept us glued to the screen and to the seats. There was energy in the theatre air. People laughed. Clapped. And at times, disconnected ringing phones. I dont need to say any more.

So, this is a good movie. That lives in its elegance. The strength of the narrative hiding the frivolity of the tale. The essense of the good warp and weave holding a skeptic like me to the seat. The impishness of the youth well complimented by superb performances that seemd so natural ! And ah yes, Imran Khan has arrived. With boyish charm and oodles of talent. Genelia looked fresh. Fresh from Shankar’s ‘Boyz’ !!

Spare a thought for the director, Abbas Tyrewala. Infact, take a bow !

All in all, a good refreshing package. So similar yet so different. So. Go watch it. Its silly. Funny. Its clean. Its natural. A simple story well told. And ofcourse, has some good music that set the ball rolling !!

By the way, has anybody heard of Aamir Khan ?