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 ?

Love Story 2050. Review

Harman Baweja’s debut film they said. The concept is unimaginable, they said. This is a landmark film they said. This is a very expensive film they said. This film will keep you glued, they said. All true. All so very true.

‘I dont need luck. I have love’ so says Harman Baweja in the movie. You can have all the love, sirs, but please try bringing in some acting, storyline and a degree of respect for your audience! Else, please place a big request for luck !

The movies is all about Australia circa 2008 & Mumbai circa 2050. Some crooning around trees and fabulous locales ( ok that was the only element that stayed with me), presumably around Australia. Propose. Death of the heroine. Time machine. Fast forward. The ‘in-love’ hero races into time & Mumbai, 2050 & fetches his ladylove. And by the way, returns to Sydney. 2008 !

Ok ! Inbetween we have all those elements that ‘lost & found’ love storys have. The song that the lovers sang, long back. The personal diary that had a few things were written. And such sundries. Other films have the handkerchief, keychains, rings et al ! The differentiator here though is the lost and found straddles zones that were hitherto left pristine. : Mumbai, 2050 !

What a way to introduce Mumbai 2050 to the world ! Of concrete jungle, flying bikes, cars, and of course hero-villain chases in the air. Movies are about tall stories. Thats fine. The finesse with which the tall stories merge into the mind of the audience is what etches a memory. Alternatively, it falls flat. Like this one !

There were some plus points though. The next seat was empty. For some reason, i had connectivity on the phone. The GPRS was on & i did a few things that were long pending. Like blogging and twittering. Other than twisting and turning in the seat !

About the movie itself, the less said the better.

Yes. It was about Harman Baweja and his first movie. Now, We know.
Yes, the treatment of the concept is unimaginable.
Yes. This is a landmark. But to a wrong place in the wrong way.
Yes. I was glued. To my phone.

I was reading this review which ends “….I wish if Harry Baweja had used this much effort in creating something logistic then would not be such waste of resources'”.

Logistics…pal ? You mean…. Oh yes. The film is all about logistics!! I hope they evolve and start moving minds too. Sometime. In the future !

Movies seem to be leaning towards death and afterlife. I guess they know, with this kind of a movie, we need to have hope !

Dasavatharam. The 10 Avataars of…

When Kamal Haasan says he has made a movie with 10 characters, the world sits upto take note. When he has Jackie Chan saying something to the same effect, it indeed catches attention.

So, we did land up at the theatre on the first day. In the so many months in Mumbai, this was the first time that no empty seat stared at me. House Full !!

I try and listen to what audiences say, post the movie, for it gives me an indication. So there was an young man who said, “it’s a technically well made movie”. There was another with a ‘try me’ T-Shirt who quipped to another: “This was Hollywood style”.

I was lost. When comments are this incongruous to my opinions, well, it provokes thought. Did I miss something? Was there more? Am I getting too old?!? Am in uncool?!?

Kamal Haasan stars in 10 different roles. (And one of them as George Bush. Goodness gracious me!) The fact that tremendous amount of physical work must have gone into plastering the different masks on the face is well acknowledged. Digital rework & multi-media magic is doubly acknowledged. Some ‘daredevil’ stunts… hmmm perhaps noticed. Every rookie filmstar claims a trapezoid linkage to Tarzan these days.

Imagine. You are loaded with cash, and you want to buy a car.

Imagine a crystal adorned dashboard. Throw in the best of designer leather trim and fabulous bucket seats. The best of 18 inch radials and alloys. The slickest of gear shifts. Get the best possible German powertrains and shock absorbers. The best of gadgets. Including an ashtray with remote control ! ( God help you to understand how you would use it from the rear seat. ).

And then in a ‘masterful’ stroke, put in a 600 CC engine inside the boot. What are you likely to see? A wonderful concept that offers all possibilities to your imagination. Until the time you crank the engine put the car in move.

I have long held the belief that a movie’s heart lies in its story. In the plot. If that is weak, everything else becomes irrelevant!

Dasavatharam is something similar. A very weak story line and 10 different Kamals. If there was any role which still holds my attention, it is the characters of Balram Naidu, the RAW officer & Vincent, the activist. Every other character is forgettable.

Some make ups are tacky and seemed to suggest a disfigurement perhaps due to steroid overuse rather than a make up !

Stunt sequences show up in predictable intervals. BMW. Helicopter. Motorbike. Local train. Lorry. Tempo Traveller. Jeep. Cargo plane. US roads. Agraharams. Sky rises. All provide backdrops to some loud noised bashing up of somebody on screen.

The intensity of my own dislike for the movie is clear. It was a shoddy piece of work in weaving it all together!

Amongst the many other scenes, which I stared in disbelief, was the ‘love’ conversation happening with the Tsunami suffering in the backdrop. To me that was insensitive and appalling. And by the way, if you have throat cancer & you get shot, the bullet can dislodge the cancer and you can be fit as a fiddle !

That was Dasavatharam for you. Despite all the technical wizardy ( of having scenes with four Kamals in the same car etc), carrying a plot without substance. Faces without meaning. And meaning far suspended from reason!

And this billed as the most expensive film ever made in India, I was already yawning when KS Ravi Kumar dances to ‘ulllaaaga – naaayaganea’ in the end.

A cryptic comment from somewhere floated in the air. “Dasavatharam: The ten avatars of pain !!” That summed it up well.

Taare Zameen Par

The rave reviews and hearing some good feedback, propelled us to a theatre. To watch Taare Zameen Par. This is no review. Just my thoughts !

Good movie. Refreshingly different. Heres why. No dance sequences with dancers wearing clothes that would take us close to the days of adam & eve. No bad apple(s). No rain sequences. No ‘one-stroke-ten-people-fly’ sequences. No Switzerland. No swanky sets. No big bad guy wielding big guns. No sequence of cars….

And surprise. It still is a movie made in India. Still moving. Still enormously engrossing. And still holding attention of an almost house full theatre two – three weeks into the opening. For a 10.30 PM show. Well, that’s some chin scratching & thinking to do. Quite some. And hey watch that chin!

To me movies like this represent the refreshing presence of ‘thinking’ that is on. To look beyond. Yet see it as part of mainstream. And make it commercially viable. And more importantly making a mass of people do something that they are encouraged to less of these days: think!

The movie shows an Indian middle class family with the ‘regular’ ambitions of making it big. And it was a very vivid one at that. The ‘alarm-egg-bread-ariport’ sequence was so natural. I mean, so like my own life !

It is there that the movie wins over. Taare Zameen Par is a reachable & relatable movie. I mean, it could be my own house. Or my next door neighbour. It could have been my own school. My class mates. And Ishan or his elder brother could have been me or my brother ! The film is striking in the way it makes you connect to your past and atleast make a few resolutions about the future. As a film maker, that should give immense satisfaction!

The film revolves around a dyslexic child who struggles at school. And his struggle to overcome, aided by his art teacher. His struggle is gut wrenching. So much so, that I began squirming and hoping that help ( Aamir Khan ) would arrive soon. And help doesn’t do so till intermission. It is equally wrenching to think that such help doesn’t get presented to every other kid outside screen.

After that came a portion of a film which seemed to focus on ‘a message’ so much so that the pace seemed to falter. Thankfully, that’s only for a short time and it finally gets knit together well for a good & effective closure. I quite liked it! It is a film for every adult who is interested ( or has a responsibility ) in children & education must watch.

There were quite a few actors who held my attention by living the roles they played. Ishan. His dad. His mom. His brother. His classmates. His English teacher at boarding school. The hindi teacher. (I ‘saw’ some of my teachers). Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics, Ehsan Loy’s music, the camera..well, I guess I’ve got everybody covered !

I don’t think I need to write much about Aamir Khan. He’s got guts to direct and produce this movie. And is willing to sweat it through. Thats another lesson he teaches. By just being who he is. Hats off.

Our marks focused educations system needs some reform. Hope this and other films like this will bring in a mass momentum to understand the distinct differences between marks and learning. We have some distance to cover.

Now for other stuff. I frankly don’t understand how people can speak on mobile phones and bring small children to watch movies. At 10.30 PM in the night.

But the crown goes to this. At the end of the movie, just as we were trudging out, there was a mother who said in all seriousness to her small son, about Ishan Awasthi’s age : “ beta, you should also paint well like Ishan to get that first prize”.

I scratched my chin. And it hurt. Looks like we have a long distance to cover.


Utilising the break.

Keeping my ear on the rail, i can hear the train coming. A long train. With no breaks. And its coming fast. Chugging away to glory. I realise that before i get on to it, i must do a few things. Well, thats the feeling that i have !

Inbetween jobs, I was at Tirupathi.

When the plans were afoot to get there, i discussed it with friends. And got some wonderful insights. Raghuvir told me that that the Lord Venkateshwara is an income tax assesse & perhaps has a pan number !! And Tirupathi is the second richest place of worship in the world. Second, only to the Vatican !

I was also told that the best way to avoid long and serpentine 4-5 hour queues is to take the AAD darshan arranged through APSRTC ( Andhra Pradhesh State Road Transport Corporation). It costed us Rs. 1000/- per head. (An air-conditioned Volvo bus journey will cost Rs.350/- extra, but we arent comfortable with them(air-conditioned buses). The journey starts from Bangalore at 7.30 PM. (sharp). Reaches Tirupathi by 1.30 in the morning.

They give you a room & an hour and fifteen minutes of time to frehsen up. At 2.45 am (sharp) they ferry you to Tirumala. 4.15 A.M you you are in the queue. And by 5.30 AM you are out after your darshan of the lord. The space , scope, belief levels and sheer energy of the place is something to experience.

Young & old. Rich & poor. Healthy & otherwise. Stingy & lavish. Show stoppers & commoners. Policemen. Shopkeepers. Housewives. Newly weds. Tonsured Heads. Long hairs. Bare chested. Tommy Hilfigers. Illiterates. PhDs. Abishek, Aishwarya, Amitabh Bachan, Anil Ambani. Me & my wife. All have visited Tirupati !

The sheer manitude of the thronging masses is electrifying to me. And by the way, i have prayed for you too ! ( No kidding !) And no you dont have to forward this ip address to 10 people to get blessings..!!

And we were back home at 4.00 PM after stopping by at Padmavati temple, breakfast and lucnh! I would say it is a very good option to go on the Archanantara Darsanam (AAD) & say hello to the lord early in the morning !

Its a little tiring. ( I would imagine that it would be a tougher ask on kids & toddlers). The bus doesnt play irritating music / movie until the return journey, which is bearable. The rooms, clean as they are, can be better, especially if you arent used to the Indian style toilets.

Contact numbers to book for the AAD is (just in case you are interested): (080) 22383361.

That was that.

In a couple of hours from now, i am going home. (Thats the song too). Home to Madurai. For five days. I am looking forward to this trip. I need to get back to the basics !

Wish me luck.

Sivaji. The Boss. The Movie. Point # 1. Point # 2

I watched Sivaji. (The Tamil film. The most expensive film in recent times. The first tamil film to be part of UK top 10. The first tamil film with 600 prints. Yes..the Rajinikant starrer. that one).

Had to write about Siva
ji. Looked like this space would have missed an important part of history ! So. A post.

Before you proceed further, here are two important points that would hold throughout this post, that i will frequently comeback to.

Point # 1: This is not a film review about Sivaji. Competent people have filled blogsphere with reviews. ( to be read as “I-will-consciously-stay-away-from- reviewing the film)

Point # 2: I am a fan of Rajini !.

Ok. Here we go. Refer Point #1.

This post is about the everything else. Ok ? Kamal (my brother. before you allude to the other Kamal) wrung in some tickets. Blessed be the soul who got us the tickets. The neighbours & friends were subtly told. “We wont be available Sunday morning” looking forward to the question, “where are you going?”.

If no question came, subtly was thrown to the winds with an added statement was, ” It isn’t everyday that we get to watch Sivaji”. The close circle in all parts of India, US and Europe were informed. The last time, such scale of information went around, was when we bought a home ! Whew !

Ok. Refer Point #1. This post is about the everything else. Ok ?

The posters were in Kannada ! For a moment we didnt know if it was a Kannada print that we were to watch. A merciful clarification came. There was the odd black marketeer. The masses of Rajini fans ( Refer Point # 2). Benagalis. Punjabis. Malayalees. Kannadigas. Man ! This was like national integration.

All coming in to watch a tamil movie. This was AVM’s 100th year. And then of course, the Star was launched on screen amidst catcalls, whistles, hoots ! I can well imagine what the first day must have been ! So we watched and watched and watched. Stop. Refer Point # 1

As i laughed, squirmed, squirmed more, laughed more, relished and more, (in no particular order / intensity), i realised that Rajini’s skills lay in reaching out to a mass and doing things that THEY would like to do. Root out black money. Subjugate villains. Knife in a minister etc ! And oh, by the way, dance with damsels in exotic settings ! Kind of satisfying a deeper need. SOME deeper need. And boy, he oozes style. (Disclaimer. Refer Point # 2)

It was break time. I overheard two non-tamils in the mens room. While keeping other conversation under wraps, respecting the unstated ‘non-disclosure pact’ of the mens room, i am compelled to quote these lines. Profound Lines !

Man 1: “What is vaaji?”
Man 2: What Vaaji ?
Man 1: “Vaaji, Vaaji, in the song..”

Man 2: “Oh..! that..Sounded like Bhaaji…i guess they must have the expression wah-ji..”
Man 1: “Oh ! Wah-Ji as in Hindi. Maybe they included it to get in audiences in other places”

Cut. Cut. Movie Starts again.

We watched and watched and watched and watched. I squirmed less. Laughed more. And had a good time. (Refer Point #2). What costed the 100 crore bombshell, i thought. All the glass sets. The glasses, the solar panels, the second hand cars etc that were broken ? Rajini’s hairdo. Shankar’s marketing. Money paid to all news channels. The prints. What ?

They did seem to have been cost conscious! Sample this. The scene opens to a Rs. 25 lac Honda CRV. Rajini plus heroine are inside. Other cars pull up. Lights are dimmed. Battering starts. Rajini is still in the car. Supposed to be same car. And begins to fight back. The car takes a battering. But, Only this time the car is a Rs. 6 lac Mahindra Scorpio!
Ok ok. Stop. Refer Point # 1

Oh yes. Finally, the MMS clippings were put to good use. After all the negative publicity that MMS clippings got, this is a good break. The film must surely affect the fortunes of chewing gum, fair & lovely, mahindra scorpio..!

Movie over. We walk out. There are smiles all around. I notice some combinations. As we queue up to the exit, holding the steering wheel, i look around at the cars queueing up. Young. Old. Men. Women. Children. Oh the tribe ! Software Engineers.

I am told that Cognizant Technology Services has booked shows for all its employees. Must be employee-engagement..( as in You- Come – back – from US and – start – something – you – better – learn – martial -arts) or that type of thing. How cynical of me !

We drove to Kadambam (supposed to be an Iyengar joint) where they serve you pure vegetarian fare. I ordered for the family. Sakkarai Pongal ( Roughly-Translates-To ‘sweet rice’). Puliyodharai (RTT ‘Tamarind Rice’). Laddoos. Polis. Rice. Pooris. Bhajis.

All rich. All in pure ghee. The cashier lumps in the money, and my wife looks at me with a “isnt this a delicious BUT too much, too rich, too fattening, too diverse…” look.

Hey, she was talking food. Nothing to do with movie ! Please Refer point # 1.

Professional Ethics !

Cool !

Jowar Bhakri & the coronation !

It was one of the tastiest vegetarian meals that i have had in a while ! Jowar Bhakri. We are given to understand that it is the staple food of Maharashtra. Or North Karnataka. Not withstanding the border disputes, the food has permeated and has a following too ! Now it has one more in me !
The place is called Kamath Minerva, at Minerva circle in Bangalore. We were lead to a different floor, exclusive to the meal called Jowar Bhakri meal ! And the place does get crowded with office goer footfalls.

The food is served on the traditional plantain leaf, and you get the most delicious Jowar Bharkri ( & a cheese cube to go along with it) with other vegetables. Especially with a brinjal curry ( i think called ennegai) !

The most engaging part is the transparent kitchen where you can see the the flour’s metamorhposis into soft rotis. I am given to understand that it is extremely healthy, ( ate without guilt). We ate in silence, all our attention focused on the food, punctuated by the sound of skillful hands tapping the flour on the oven !

Some warnings:

1. To all people who will be getting here for the first time, remember this as you are thumping the rotis. There is rice to follow ! And there are bananas and a version of paan to sign of. So !

2. You will be served with rotis and rice the moment there is space in your leaf. The folks that serve you smooth operators in slipping in the food to you ! So beware. The quantity that would have gone in will be realised only after some time !!!

The entire experience can set you back by a princely sum of Rs. 75/- only. As the rotis melted in the mouth, my mind raced back to the song from Maya Bazaar! Felt like a king ! A king for Rs. 75 /- only !